With the recent surge of the most winter-like weather Ann Arbor has seen all year, the coming of spring is likely on the minds of many. Does this sound like you? If your answer is yes, fear not! Everyone’s favorite holiday, Groundhog Day, is here to save the day by telling you just how long your wait for spring will be.
For those of you who live in a warmer climate, skipped elementary school, etc, here is a brief explanation: On the morning of February 2nd, groundhogs around the country emerge from their burrows. The nation then waits in suspense to see whether or not these furry friends will see their shadows. If the sky happens to be cloudy, the groundhog will not see its shadow. This somehow tells us that spring is going to come early. But don’t get too excited, because there is a darker side to this seemingly innocent celebration. If the sun is shining, the groundhog will ultimately see its shadow, get scared, and run back to its burrow. Tragically, we will then be sentenced to another six weeks of winter woes.
Groundhog day originated from a German tradition that employed a badger rather than a groundhog. When Germans immigrated to the United States, the badger was replaced by the more common groundhog. According to Wikipedia, the earliest mention of Groundhog Day in the United States came from a Pennsylvania storeowner in 1841. Pennsylvania is also home to one of the most famous members of the groundhog turned meteorologist population, Punxsutawney Phil. Not surprisingly, Phil resides in Punxsutawney where the largest Groundhog Day celebration in the USA also happens to be held.
So, cross your fingers for clouds on February 2nd, and if the sun wins out, blame someone from Pennsylvania.