Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Did You Know Tuesday - Groundhog Day

February 2 is Groundhog Day.  This holiday has been celebrated since 1887.  According to folklore, on this date if it is cloudy, a groundhog will emerge from his burrow and there will be an early spring.  If it is sunny, the groundhog will go back into the burrow, and there will be six more weeks of winter weather.

The most famous groundhog in the United States is Punxsutawney Phil in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  Phil was named after King Philip.  In Georgia, we have General Beau Lee in Stone Mountain.

The first documented reference to Groundhog Day in the United States is by shopkeeper James Morris in 1841:

"Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."

Groundhogs are the largest animal in the squirrel family.  They typically are about 20" long, and weigh 12 to 15 pounds.

Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks or whistle pigs.  The name "whistle pig" comes from their whistling behavior.  They whistle when they are alarmed, or when they are courting in spring.

Groundhogs are primarily herbivores, preferring greens, fruits, and vegetables.  They do not drink much water.  They put on weight before hibernating.

They are diurnal animals - active during the day.

Most Groundhog Day organizers claim an accuracy rate of 75% - 95%, although meteorologists insist that this rate is much lower (30% - 40%).

There was a 1993 comedy movie called Groundhog Day about a weatherman (Bill Murray) who gets caught in a time loop while covering Groundhog Day festivities.  

Here is a video of a tame groundhog named Garfield nibbling on some food:

Is there a famous groundhog from your area?  Did he see his shadow today?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.


Unknown said...

I've always thought Groundhog Day was such a weird day. I've never really understood it and I always get it confused. Like, what does it mean if he sees his shadow again? The movie thought? That's hilarious!

Kim said...

GREAT post...so informative and that video!!!! How cute is he???? LOVE IT...thanks

Birdhouse Books said...

Thanks! I appreciate your comments. I love the video too -- that little groundhog is just too cute.