Groundhog Day 2009 at the Yellow River Game Ranch
The "official" groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.
The groundhog tradition comes from beliefs centered on the Christian holiday Candlemas (40 days after Christmas, the day when all Christmas greens must be removed or it will bring bad luck; the name comes from the Church practice of blessing the candles that day for use in the remainder of the liturgical year) and the pagan celebration Imbolc. A Scottish poem says of this day:
"As the light grows longerEarly American references to Groundhog Day go back as far as 1841 and state this as a German custom. The original German animal, however, was a badger; once in the United States, the behavior was changed to the groundhog (also known as the woodchuck).
The cold grows stronger;
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas be cloud and snow,
Winter will be gone and not come again.
A farmer should on Candlemas day
Have half his corn and half his hay.
On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop
You can be sure of a good pea crop."