We have all heard about Phil, the groundhog, or have seen the movie Groundhog Day, but what is the Groundhog Holiday all about? I did a little research on the observance and here is what I was able to find out. Information taken from http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/groundhog-day. Teachers, be sure to check out the links below for activities and lesson plan you might want to use in your classroom!
Thousands of years ago when animalism and nature worship were prevalent, people in the area of Europe now known as Germany believed that the badger had the power to predict the coming of spring. They watched the badger to know when to plant their crops. By the time the first German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania they probably understood that this was not true but the tradition continued.
Unfortunately there were not many badgers in Pennsylvania so the groundhog substituted the badger. Tradition has it that if the groundhog will sees its shadow on February 2 it will be frightened by it and will return to its burrow, indicating that there will be six more weeks of winter. If it does not see its shadow, then spring is on the way.
Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the United States in the 1800s. The first official trek to Gobbler's Knob was made on February 2, 1887. It is said that Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog) was named after King Phillip. He was called Br'er Groundhog prior to being known as Phil. Canada also celebrates Groundhog Day.
Groundhog Day is a popular observance in many parts of the United States on February 2 of each year. Although some states have in some cases adopted their own groundhogs, the official groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, lives at Gobbler’s Knob near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The town has attracted thousands of visitors over the years to experience various Groundhog Day events and activities on February 2.
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club plays an important role in organizing Groundhog Day in the town. Club members, news reporters, locals and visitors meet at Gobbler’s Knob on February 2 each year to await Phil’s appearance and his weather prediction. Pennsylvania’s governor has been known to attend Groundhog Day ceremonies. Many weather researchers questioned the groundhog’s accuracy in predicting the weather but some of the groundhog’s fans may not agree.The Groundhog
The groundhog, also known as the woodchuck or marmot, is believed to make weather predictions relating to winter and spring according to superstition. Movies, advertisements, cartoons and other media have portrayed the legendary role of the groundhog in popular culture. The term “Groundhog Day” is a phrase that is sometimes used to express if the same events or actions occur repetitively for a period of time.
Teachers, Check out the Links below for activities, lesson plans, etc.
Groundhog Lesson Plans
More Fun Groundhog Facts
- The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long.
- Groundhogs are covered with coarse grayish hairs (fur) tipped with brown or sometimes dull red. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs, and are surprisingly quick. Their jaws are exceptionally strong.
- A groundhog's diet consists of lots of greens, fruits, and vegetables and very little water. Most of their liquids come from dewy leaves.
- A groundhog can whistle when it is alarmed. Groundhogs also whistle in the spring when they begin courting.
- Insects do not bother groundhogs and germs pretty much leave them alone. They are resistant to the plagues that periodically wipe out large numbers of wild animals. One reason for this is their cleanliness.
- Groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate. Hibernation is not just a deep sleep. It is actually a deep coma, where the body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing, the heart barely beats, the blood scarcely flows, and breathing nearly stops.
- Young Groundhogs are usually born in mid-April or May, and by July they are able to go out on their own. The size of the litter is 4 to 9. A baby groundhog is called a kit or a cub.
- A groundhog's life span is normally 6 to 8 years.