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Groundhog Day

"If Candlemas Day is clear and bright,
Winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again."

~ Traditional

Groundhog Day, an offshoot of Candlemas Day, began as a European and Pennsylvania German custom in the 18th and 19th centuries, substituting the native American groundhog for the European hedgehog, adding another animal to weather divination rituals. Candelmas is the Catholic church's version of the Celtic celebration of Imbolc (linked to St. Brigid's Day) a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring and the return of the sun. People would bring candles to be blessed by the priest in lieu of the older tradition of lighting bonfires for purification and renewal rituals, then bringing home an ember to light a new fire or candle in the home. Imbolc begins at sunset on February 1st and continues till sunset on February 2nd in keeping with the Celtic tradition of beginning the day at the time of dark. In more modern folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog sees its shadow and retreats back into its burrow, auguring six more weeks of cold winter! The most famous US forecasting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil of Gobblers Knob, Pennsylvania, has been making predictions since 1887. Because Phil's predictions often come with a statement (interpreted from Groundhogese by the President of the Groundhog Club), Phil once memorably announced during Prohibition that unless he got a sip of liquor, there would be 60 more weeks of winter!

For Hedgehog or Groundhog Day, we have a special tartan by Carol A.L. Martin, "Groundhog Day."

Groundhog Day is a traditional holiday celebrated on February 2, which began as a European and Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow.

The most famous US groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, whose full name is “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary,” isn’t the only notable groundhog whose shadow – or lack thereof – can indicate an early spring or longer winter.

There are quite a few other weather-prognosticating woodchucks including:

  • Chattanooga Chuck (Tennesse)

  • French Creek Freddie (West Virginia)

  • Buckeye Chuck (Ohio)

  • Essex Ed (New Jersey)

  • Jimmy the Groundhog (Wisconsin)

  • Staten Island Chuck (New York)

  • General Beuregard Lee (Georgia)

  • Dunkirk Dave (New York)

  • Thistle the Whistlepig (Ohio)

  • Wiarton Willie (Ontario)

  • Shubenacadie Sam (Nova Scotia)

Weather prognostication on the this day comes from older traditions in Europe which include badgers in Germany, hedgehogs in Ireland (On St. Bridghid's Day, Feb 1), bears in Croatia and Serbia, and snakes in Scotland.

From the designer:

"If the sun comes out on a clear blue morning, the Groundhog will see his shadow. Again, the darker "shadow" portion is asymmetrical as if light is shining on the lines from the left hand side. The turquoise seemed to go with the bright yellow and reminded me of a warm Caribbean vacation, which I am sure many people on the East Coast may be dreaming of right now."

For more on this weather-lore holiday and to monitor today's prediction of one of the most famous weather-predicting groundhogs, Punxsutawney Phil, click the groundhog or visit his facebook page to see the live feed of his prediction!

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