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.
Fun Groundhog Facts and Groundhog Day Facts for Kids
Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks or whistle-pigs.
They are rodents and are the largest animal in the squirrel family.
Groundhogs live in the Eastern part of North America.
Groundhogs live near fence lines, vegetable farms, corn fields or fruit orchards.
They are omnivores meaning they eat meat and plants but they mostly eat plants.
Groundhogs eat grasses, berries, vegetables, grasshoppers, insects and snails.
Groundhogs hibernate meaning they spend their winters sleeping. They hibernate from October to late March.
Groundhogs prepare for hibernation by putting on weight. Then they live off the fat until they come out of hibernation.
Groundhogs are diurnal meaning they are active during the day.
Groundhogs have a curved spine.
They can live up to 6 years old.
They are between 16 inches and 26 inches long with a 6 inch tail.
Groundhogs weigh between 9-15 pounds.
Groundhogs are burrowers. A burrow is a small tunnel or hole dug by a small animal.
They can move over 700 pounds of dirt digging one burrow or den!
They use their burrows or dens for sleeping, caring for babies and hibernation.
Groundhog burrows have between 2-5 entrances and can be 5 ft below the ground.
Groundhogs can swim and are excellent tree climbers.
They sometimes climb trees to get fruit.
Farmers do not like groundhogs because they eat their crop.
Groundhogs have a littler of 4-9 babies.
A baby groundhog is called a kit or cub.
Babies are born hairless helpless and blind.
They open their eyes for the first time when they are around 4 weeks old.
They are born in the den and do not live until they are 6-7 weeks old.
Predators are fox, raccoons, coyotes and farm dogs.
Goundhog Day Facts
Groundhogs are famous for predicting Spring.
Groundhog Day is on February 2nd.
According to legend if the groundhog comes out of their burrow on February 2nd then Spring will come early.
If the groundhog sees a shadow then it goes back into its burrow and Winter will last 6 more weeks.
The largest Groundhog Day Celebration is held in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania.
People have been gathering in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania to celebrate Groundhogs Day since the late 1800s.
The famous groundhog who predicts the weather in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania is Punxsutawney Phil.
How often is the groundhog right with predicting Spring? Many people argue that answer. Some say he is between 75%-90% correct other say 35%.