Groundhog Day speaks to the triumph of spring over winter - and birth over death. Originally, this was a Celtic festival marking the midpoint of the season. It was called Imbolc. It was also called Brigantia for the Celtic female deity of light, calling attention to the sun's being halfway on its advance from the winter solstice to the spring equinox. The Christian church later called this festival of light, "Candlemas." This English name refers to the candles lit that day in churches to celebrate the presentation of the Christ Child in the temple of Jerusalem.
The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe.
Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans and they found an abundance of groundhogs in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog, resembling the European hedgehog, was a most intelligent and sensible animal and therefore decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.
Let's hope that on February 2 the weather is cloudy so that the groundhog will remain out, and spring will come early!
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