Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Groundhog Day!

Welcome news on winter
Thursday, February 2, 2006 Posted at 8:40 AM EST
Canadian Press

Wiarton Willie, Canada's best-known four-legged forecaster, is predicting an early end to a winter many Canadians are still waiting to see.

The pudgy white woodchuck failed to see his shadow on Groundhog Day in the central Ontario town.

Shubenacadie Sam, Nova Scotia's most famous weather-forecasting rodent, also predicted an early spring.

But a unanimous groundhog verdict was prevented when Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania saw his shadow.

According to folklore, if a groundhog sees his shadow on Feb. 2, the frightened critter will flee to his burrow, heralding six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

The tradition probably has something to do with Feb. 2 landing midway between the beginning of winter and the beginning of spring.

Some say it started with Candlemas, a Christian custom named for the lighting candles during the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary.

According to an old Scottish couplet: “If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year.”

In Europe, the custom was to watch for hedgehogs emerging to catch insects, but when Europeans settled in North America, the lack of hedgehogs forced them to find a substitute.

Enter the groundhog.

In 1887, German settlers in Punxsutawney, Penn., headed to Gobbler's Knob on Feb. 2 for their first, official Groundhog Day at that site. Three years ago, 40,000 people attended the event.

This year, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, but it was hard to find a complainer in the crowd out in morning temperatures well above freezing with a predicted high for the day of 9 degrees.

There were a few boos at the groundhog's prediction of six more weeks of winter, but most of the hundreds of revelers instead turned the event into an impromptu Pittsburgh Steelers rally.

Dozens of communities across North America have come up with their own weather-predicting critters, including Wiarton Willie in Ontario and Balzac Billie in Alberta.


yrautca said...

Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray? One of my all time favorites. Its been coined as the most spiritual movie of the last 25 years. You should check it out.

yrautca said...

I repeat


yrautca said...

Did you see the movie yet? You slacker!!!

Jennifer said...

I love that movie, I could watch Bill Murray go through that day over and over, over and over.