Groundhog Day is a well-known holiday of American culture predicting the weather for the last half of winter. According to the ancient tradition, when the first half of winter is already behind, the days become a little bit longer, the bright sun is going on the grey winter sky higher and appearing more often, the natural “meteorologist”, the groundhog, can be helpful for weather prognosis for next coming winter weeks by its behavior. When is Groundhog Day in 2017? It will be celebrated on February 2, 2017 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Groundhog Day’s history and roots
The origin of the holiday is in early heathen, pre-Christian, traditions of Europe. In winter Celts, Germans and other nations of Northern Europe celebrated the midpoint between Winter Solstice, when day is shortest and night is longest, and Spring Equinox, when day and night are equal, early February. It can fall between second and seventh of February according to precise astronomical calculations. So, what day Groundhog Day in 2017? It will fall on February 2.
Celtic nations called this ancient holiday Imbolc, or sometimes Imbolg, and celebrated the beginning of spring. This festival took place in the cold and dark winter time when people especially yearned for the sun and warm weather. Still the first signs of coming spring already appeared bringing the hope for new life. The word “Imbolc” in old Irish language is related to the milk of sheep because that time starting of jumbuck’ lactation meant the first marks of spring.
Later in Christian time it was known as Candlemas in Europe or Saint Brigid Day, in Scotland and Ireland. Celtic goddess Brigid, later transformed into St. Brigid by Catholic Church, signified fertility, regeneration, and fire of life. She was reborn during the Imbolc festival from winter harridan to young virgin spring symbolizing the ending of dark and cold winter time and beginning of sunlight and warm. Also since that time the sap started to flow in the trees slowly waking them from long winter sleep.
Traditionally that day people made hearthstone fires, lit numerous candles on the windows and inside their houses celebrating the returning and rising sun and the lengthening day. They believed that sacred fire in the honor of old Goddess Brigid is able to purify their souls, bodies, thoughts and emotions.
Also, Germans observed the behavior of hedgehogs and badgers trying to predict the weather for next winter weeks. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, first German colonists arrived in Pennsylvania, bringing their culture and continued the ancient traditions. Though, they had to change the “predictor” to the groundhog because of great population of them living there.
Groundhog Day Traditions
According the Groundhog Day tradition, if the sun is shining brightly and making shadows, when the groundhog getting out from the hole sees its own shadow, which makes it scared, it would climb back to the burrow. This means that cold and winter weather will still prevail till the spring months. If there is no sun and sky is covered with clouds, there are no shadows, which could make the creature scared and it will stay outside the hole. It speaks that winter is over and the weather will be mild and warm in coming weeks. Some people may ask when is Groundhog Day day 2017 that the rodent is awakening from its winter hibernation. In the beginning of February male groundhogs usually come out from their holes seeking the females, after they hide again till March when their hibernation would be over.
Celebration and interesting facts
- The first official celebration of this holiday in America was in 1887. This event happened in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. On the second of February, 1887, the editor of local newspaper, being also a groundhog hunter, declared that a groundhog named Phil was the best weather prophet on the continent and the first forecast was for warm weather and early spring because there was no shadow.
- Phil’s descendants, having the same name, are probably the best known groundhogs all over the country. Though, in modern time some cities of USA and Canada already provided themselves with their own small and furry creatures meteorologists, like Chuck of Staten Island or Canadian Shubenacadie Sam.
- The movie Groundhog Day, with magnificent Bill Murray as a weatherman, having to live the Groundhog Day again and again, released in the early 90s of the last century, made this holiday even more popular among Americans. Visitor’s activity at Gobbler’s Knob, weather predictor Phil’s house, increased significantly and in 1997 was five times more than population of the local town of Jefferson County. Those who are going to travel to Punxsutawney would like to know, what is the date of Groundhog Day 2017? Unlike the astronomical calculation of winter midpoint, the Groundhog Day with Phil’s prophecy is celebrating the same day every year – February 2.
- Nowadays the celebration in Punxsutawney lasts three days providing numerous entertainments and holiday activities. A bunch of Phil’s admirers from all regions of America attending the live event to be able to witness his forecast for the next winter months. Several people representing the local authorities group, also known as Inner Circle, chairs the occasion. The authorized persons of Inner Circle usually wear top hats and speak Pennsylvania Dutch dialect while conducting the official part of the ceremony.
When is Groundhog Day in 2017, schedule of different events and activities for attendants and guests of the holiday
- The Groundhog Ball – plenty of music, hotdogs, and entertainment.
- Celebration tent events – specially heated holiday tent with sitting area, where visitors can get warm, relax and enjoy different festivities also buy goods from the vendors.
- Breakfast with Phil – the unique opportunity to have a served breakfast together with Phil and Inner Circle members. Also treating Phil with its favorite nuts and making pictures together with Inner Circle members and Punxsutawney Phil are welcomed.