Groundhog Day 2021: A brief history of Groundhog Day

Posted on 2 February 2021
By Khyle Medany
  • Share:

Let’s face it, the whole of 2020 felt like the classic Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day.

The actual Groundhog Day though, only occurs once a year, and it’s an ideal way to press pause from what’s been a pretty bleak winter in reality.

Let’s take a little info dive into this cute, even if truly bizarre holiday, starting with the first question people usually ask:

When is Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day lands on the 2nd of February every year. This year, Groundhog Day will be on a Tuesday.

What is Groundhog Day?

Every Groundhog Day, everyone turns to a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, to let us know whether we’re in for a dreary and dull remainder of winter, or if we’re likely to expect the spring time air to come in a bit earlier than usual.

If the groundhog Phil sees his shadow, then we can probably expect a bit more gloom in the form of winter chill, if Phil’s shadow doesn’t appear, then an early spring is said to coming.

How did Groundhog Day start?

The belief is that Groundhog Day’s origins are found in the Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, which would take place at the halfway point between the first day of winter and the first day of Spring.

It has been said that if Candlemas took place on a day with pleasant, clear skies, that it was a sign of a long winter to come and candles of different sizes, would be given to worshippers, depending on what the weather prediction was.

The hedgehog was the animal of choice used to further predict the weather. German and Dutch settlers were the ones that brought the tradition over to Pennsylvania in the United States.

1886 is the first year that Groundhog Day took place, according to the known records… with the first celebration of the day, happening in 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Groundhogs were used as the furry meteorologists in the States, essentially as they were the most common critters – it’s also worth noting that the hibernation cycle for male hogs ends in early February, as they then scurry out of their burrows in search of their mates.

Where is the groundhog kept?

During the other 364 days of the year that Punxsutawney Phil isn’t being revered or predicting the weather, he lives inside the Punxsutawney library in a greenhouse known as Phil’s Burrow.

Where does Groundhog Day take place?

Punxsutawney Phil checks for his shadow at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania each year. However, other localities may have their own groundhogs and celebrations as well.

Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is the place where groundhog Phil checks for his shadow every year. Other local areas have taken inspiration from Phil and do have their own groundhogs and celebrations too.