Dale’s Daily Data: Groundhog Day
It’s a tradition going on since 1887 – Groundhog Day in Punxatawney, Pennsylvania. Kind of a mid-winter festival based on European folklore that if a badger wanders from his burrow and sees his shadow, there’ll be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring is right around the corner.
They didn’t have high tech weather forecasting back then, so farmers used it as a gauge for when to plant their crops. German immigrants brought the tradition with them to Pennsylvania, but because there were no badgers in the area, they used groundhogs.
Why February 2nd? It’s the approximate mid-point of winter. It was also a date for farmers to take inventory of their hay. If they didn’t have half of it left, they’d have to conserve it so that they didn’t run out before spring.
The day starts early in Punxatawney on Groundhog Day with shuttle buses heading to Gobbler’s Hill beginning at 2:30 am. Parking lots and coffee shops open at 3 with most of the town’s souvenir shops and stores open at about the same time with Phil scheduled to venture out about 7:25. An entire day of activities follows that.
You can check the official website for yourself at: groundhog.org