Why is February 2 Groundhog Day?

Why is February 2 Groundhog Day?


Updated: 02.02.2021 00:42 h.

The February 2 is very popular in the United States because it is celebrated in Pennsylvania (United States) on Groundhog Day or Groundhog Day, in which one of these animals comes out of its burrow and depending on what it does, winter will lengthen or spring will arrive.

As any movie buff will know, this was the setting where the famous feature film was set. Caught in timestarring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, which has become a cult film.

Groundhog Day Explanation / DRAW MY LIFE

Why is Groundhog Day celebrated?

The main reason for giving so much interest to this date is to know what the rest of winter will be like, so that you can foresee if there will be more cold weeks before temperatures calm down and spring begins.

Of course, it is not an exact science, but it consists of a large group of people swirling around the trunk of a tree in the town of Punxsutawney. There is the burrow of the marmota Phil -It is always called the same- and if the animal sees its own shadow, the forecast will be that the winter will last at least six more weeks. On the other hand, if it is cloudy and poor Phil does not find his shadow, it will mean that spring is approaching.

A marmot, symbol of the popular method used by American and Canadian farmers to predict winter / PEXEL

Where does Groundhog Day come from?

Obviously, this unscientific tradition dates back many years, specifically to Roman empire later, when Christianity had become the official religion and the Candlemas day or of the Light.

This occurred on February 2, the date on which believers they lit candles that before had been blessed. Well, that same day there was a tradition that if the sky remained clear, the winter would still be long.

Tradition travels

With the arrival of the Germanic peoples, the tradition of Candlemas Day moved to northern Europe, where they came to the conclusion that if a hedgehog he could see his own shadow, he supposed that the sun was at the top and that, therefore, spring would be desired. The custom was maintained throughout the centuries and he made a new journey, crossing the Atlantic Ocean to America.

A large colony of Germans settled in the Pennsylvania lands and they continued a tradition that has survived to this day. Although it has done so with a small change that precisely gives its name to February 2. And, when they arrived, they realized that while there were few hedgehogs, what proliferated were marmots, so they decided change the animal that did the climatological prediction.

The groundhog Phil on February 2, 2017 after his forecast / EFE

The groundhog Phil on February 2, 2017 after his forecast / EFE

Why was this day popular?

Beyond the fact that February 2 is a special day in the Canary Islands, an autonomous community whose patron is the Virgen de la Candelaria – she appeared in the municipality of Güimar, in Tenerife -, this day has become popular all over the world as a result of the aforementioned film, which premiered in the year 1993 like one more comedy starring Bill Murray and directed by his partner in Ghostbusters, the already deceased Harold ramis.

Probably none of them would imagine that almost 20 years later the film continues to be extremely popular and that it has even managed to make the expression “groundhog day” not refer to the tradition it represents, but rather to refer to the boring step from day to day in which it seems that nothing different happens, just as it happens to the protagonist.

Image from the film ´Groundhog Day´ by Bill Murray / LA TERCERA

Image from the film ‘Groundhog Day’ by Bill Murray / THE THIRD

What is ‘Trapped in Time’ about?

In case any reader has not seen it, this feature film whose original name is Groundhog Day -title that reveals much less than the one used in our country-, is about how Phil Connors, an unpleasant meteorologist, jaded with life, somewhat cretin and very bitter has to cover Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney.

However, it will not be a normal day, since, without knowing why, you will have to live the same day and again. In this vital journey that will make him a better person capable of taking advantage of his “repeated day”, he will end up falling in love with his co-worker, played by Andie MacDowell.

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Why is February 2 Groundhog Day?