Patch Poll: What News Will Groundhog Day Bring?
With the recent crazy weather and last week's frigid temps, the prospect of Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter Saturday is especially daunting.
Groundhog Day is Saturday this year, and the recent Arctic temperatures just broken by heavy rains, gusty winds, near-60 degree temps and power outages throughout Union County and surrounding areas are giving the day a bit more resonance than usual.
According to the myth, if a groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; if he does not, spring is right around the corner.
Last year in Summit, a stand-in groundhog did the honors at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum to declare that winter is over. At first, the true confirmation was conflicting, as Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, while Staten Island Chuck called for an early spring. But groundhog Essex Ed served as the tie-breaker, predicting an early spring at the annual Groundhog Day ceremony at Turtle Back Zoo.
Groundhog Day and other similar legends are based on the beliefs of Europeans, but the true origins of the holiday are lost in time. The day originated from the Germans, Scots and early Christian Europeans.
It is celebrated every year on Feb. 2. On this day, a groundhog comes out of its burrow and checks for his shadow to determine how soon spring will arrive.
Groundhog Day as we know it in the U.S. started because the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers wanted to know if spring was coming early or not. That information helped them decide when they should plant seeds and half their hay.
Europeans used hedgehogs as the animal that determined the season change but Pennsylvania Dutch farmers chose the groundhog, or woodchuck, because it was found in greater numbers in North America. Groundhog Day stemmed from the ancient traditions of Candlemas, a holiday that originated in early Christian Europe that was celebrated by the Germans.
In central Pennsylvania, the people of Punxsutawney hold celebrations as they wait for Punxsutawney Phil, the native groundhog resident of the town, to come out of his burrow and check for his shadow.
For 2013, what will it be? Six more weeks of bone-chilling cold or a blessedly early springtime for the township? Take the poll—Patch wants to know what you think.