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Six more weeks...

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Groundhog Day. My phone tells me that this morning Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow, so we can expect 6 more weeks of winter.

I've always wondered about Groundhog Day. Up here no self-respecting groundhog will stir from his den for another month! January 23-29 is, on average, the coldest week of the year; it's asking a lot to get Spring 4 days later.... [Tonight the temperature is forecast to drop to -11°F (-24°C), and -19°F (-28°C) tomorrow!]

And why, if it's sunny, does that mean more winter, but if it's cloudy or stormy, spring is on the way? The whole thing never made sense unless it came from Europe. I thought it was England, where if it's sunny, you're under an Arctic high, but if it's cloudy (as usual), the Gulf Stream is far enough north to bring warmer weather - but as far as I know, they don't have any equivalent ground dweller to the woodchuck.

Well I wasn't far off. It turns out it was the Germans, and the badger. The Wikipedia article on groundhog day provides some background, but it seems to focus on Christian holidays, rather than the pagan cross-quarter day traditions which the Christian church appropriated.

Luckily, last year the Library of Congress American Folklife Center published a deeper and more accurate characterization of the tradition. It even includes an assessment of how accurate the tradition is as a predictor!
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I wonder how many organizations are keeping tame woodchucks just so they can pop them out into public view in the middle of what, for their wild brethren, is an extended hibernation. If you went looking for a wild woodchuck up and about at the beginning of February, you'd have to go pretty far south!

Staten Island Chuck did not see his shadow this morning so he says an early Spring.:)


Six weeks or so.... The original German tradition was 40 days, which apparently got rounded to 6 weeks. But up here, it's 7 weeks before the average temperature even gets above freezing!


I just read more about Groundhog Day that I ever knew I wanted to know. lol Thanks, Don. Interesting information. So six more week of winter. ☺


No, I stole the photo from the Wikipedia article - thus the Image attribution. I don't bother photographing woodchucks as a rule - they're ubiquitous and annoying. It would be like running for the camera when I see a house sparrow.... :-)


Good photo dondi and very interesting information, thank you!


Did you take that photo? It's great! I'll save the article to read after I get home from my walk, but it sounds interesting.

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