Groundhog Day: what it is and where it is celebrated

February 2 is known as Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada. A tradition that has been going on for over 100 years, it is based on a rather bizarre belief. Legend has it, in fact, that the rodent, nicknamed ‘Phil’, coming out of his den on this day would be able to understand how long the winter will last based on his shadow. If the marmot sees his projection on the ground he will return to his den, announcing another six weeks of cold temperatures. Otherwise, he will mean that spring will come early.

The origins

The most important Groundhog Day ritual has been held for years in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a place where thousands of people gather every February 2nd. The choice of this town has distant origins and has to do with the German settlers who moved to this land in past centuries. The latter, once they arrived in Pennsylvania, according to tradition, carried on the ancient German custom which was held in conjunction with the Christian festival of Candlemas (February 2), during which the clergy delivers blessed candles to the population to face the dark hours of winter. In several places in Germany there was a widespread belief that hedgehogs, based on when they decided to end their hibernation, were able to predict the end of the cold season. The colonists, over the years, decided to replace these animals with marmots, which are very numerous in Pennsylvania.

Phil’s choices have no scientific correspondence

Obviously the marmot’s behavior has no scientific value. Indeed, experts explain that a lot depends on the weather forecast for February 2nd.

Movie quotes

The fame of the day was also increased by a successful film, released in 1993, entitled “Groundhog Day”, translated into Italian as “Groundhog Day”. In the film, the protagonist, played by Bill Murray, is a journalist who on February 2nd must report on the exploits of the meteorologist marmot. The reporter, however, is forced to relive the same day in a loop.