Waiting with (Frosty) Bated Breath for Groundhog Day
With the recent cold snap, the prospect of Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter is especially daunting. Check out Morton Arboretum for local Groundhog Day events.
Groundhog Day is on Saturday, Feb. 2, and the recent Arctic temperatures are giving the day a bit more resonance than usual.
According to the myth, if a groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; if he does not, spring is right around the corner. Last year, Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter while Staten Island Chuck called for an early spring.
Groundhog Day originated from the Germans, Scots and early Christian Europeans. It is celebrated every year on Feb. 2. On this day, a groundhog comes out of its burrow and checks for his shadow to determine how soon spring will arrive.
- Brookfield Zoo will have themed crafts and activities for children in the Hamill Family Play Zoo exhibit. On Saturday, Feb. 2, admission to the zoo and the Play Zoo is free.
- Morton Arboretum will host its annual Groundhog Daze from 11 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 2 and 3, at the Children's Garden. Kids can crawl through a tunnel and make a pop-up groundhog to take home. The arboretum is located at 4100 Route 53 in Lisle. Call (630) 968-0074 for more information.
Groundhog Day as we know it in the U.S. started because the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers wanted to know if spring was coming early. That information helped them decide when they should plant seeds and half their hay.
Europeans used hedgehogs as the animal that determined the season change but Pennsylvania Dutch farmers chose the groundhog because they were found in greater numbers in North America. Groundhog Day stemmed from the ancient traditions of Candlemas, a holiday that originated in early Christian Europe that was celebrated by the Germans.
In central Pennsylvania, the people of Punxsutawney hold celebrations as they wait for Punxsutawney Phil, the native groundhog resident of the town, to come out of his burrow and check for his shadow.
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