Today is Groundhog Day — a day designated to the furry creature who emerges from his burrow to determine whether or not spring is in the air. As the concept goes, if the groundhog coming out of his burrow can’t see his shadow — typically because the sun is blocked by clouds — spring will come soon. Thanks goodness. But, if it is sunny and the furry little critter sees his shadow, he retreats to his underground home to hibernate for another six weeks of winter. Please, groundhog, don’t see your shadow.
Depending on where you live in the USA, you could have your own groundhog looking for his shadow. However, as has been the case every Groundhog Day for decades, thousands of people typically trek to what is the largest celebration — in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania — where Phil the groundhog makes his rightful appearance as the star meteorologist. He is the furry creature who will determine if we hibernate (hide from winter) another six weeks or start readying for spring. Just before 7:30 am this morning, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob in PA and saw his shadow. So, those wishful for early spring will be disappointed.
Another concept to think about: why does the groundhog really cares about his shadow and why do we care? We have been celebrating this day since 1886 and back then, farmers cared the most about whether or not the groundhog saw his shadow because they planned their crops around the seasons. Early spring meant they had to get right to work. New England farmers, called February 2 “Half-Hay” day because by February 2, if they didn’t still have half their hay remaining to last the rest of winter (no matter what the groundhog saw), times could be tough for the livestock until the green grass of spring sprouted. While we have more scientific ways to track weather, this old tradition lives on.