Why Do We Celebrate Groundhog Day?

Why Do We Celebrate Groundhog Day?

Sriya Pallapothu, Hot Topics Columnist

Groundhog Day is widely celebrated for an animal meteorologist who will tell us when the cold winter will end. Groundhog Day is a very popular American holiday, but do you know why? Unlike holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or even Independence Day, the origins of Groundhog Day are somewhat unclear and remain a mystery to many people. 

Groundhog Day originates from the Christian festival of Candlemas. In some parts of Europe, Christians believed that a sunny Candlemas would result in another 40 days of cold weather. Christians in Germany created their own version of the legend, and they believed that the day could only be considered sunny if a badger or other small animal saw its shadow. This tradition was brought over to America in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the groundhog was chosen to be the animal that would see its shadow.

The first Groundhog Day was February 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. If the groundhog sees its shadow, winter will continue for another six weeks. However, if the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, spring will arrive early. Since 1887, records of the weather have been kept, and according to the data, the groundhog has only been 39% accurate in predicting the weather. If the groundhog’s predictions are not very accurate, then why do we still celebrate Groundhog Day? I think the answer would be for the same reason that we celebrate any other holiday: Groundhog Day has been going on for so long that it has become a beloved American tradition. Even though Groundhog Day may not result in an accurate prediction of the weather, it is still a valuable tradition that will continue for many years to come.