Origins of Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day is a holiday celebrated on February 2 in the United States and Canada. While the exact origins of Groundhog Day are not known, the tradition is believed to have started in Pennsylvania in the late 1800s as an annual custom of settlers of German descent. Similar folk beliefs in which an animal — such as a badger or a sacred bear — predicts the weather can be traced to other parts of Europe and are presumed to be rooted in the early Christian holiday of Candlemas.
Interpreting What the Groundhog Sees
According to folklore, if the groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, it will retreat back into its burrow to hibernate for an additional six weeks of winter. If the groundhog does not see its shadow, it will emerge from its burrow, signifying an imminent end to winter and an early start to spring.
The Largest Celebration in the United States
In the United States, Groundhog Day is celebrated throughout the country, with the largest celebration held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney Phil, the official weather prognosticating groundhog, has made some 115 official predictions to date, since the first official celebrations began in 1886.
More Web Resources for Teaching About Groundhog Day
In addition to the Scholastic lesson plans, activities, and reproducibles listed below, you can find groundhog-related games, crafts, and other fun activities on the official Punxsutawney Groundhog Club website. For fast facts and other information you can use to teach about the groundhog, visit the National Geographic website.