Dates and Origins of Groundhog Day

Groundhog
Groundhog (phrawr / CC-by)

Groundhog Day Dates in 2017, 2018 and 2019

Groundhog Day is celebrated at the following dates:

  • Thursday, February 2nd 2017
  • Friday, February 2nd 2018
  • Saturday, February 2nd 2019

Groundhog day is celebrated annually on February 2.

It is said that if the groundhog casts no shadow when he comes out of his burrow, thereby casting no shadow than spring will come early. If it is sunny and the groundhog sees its shadow, it will return to its burrow and there will be six more weeks of winter1.

Origin

Groundhog day originates from an ancient german tradition though in this tradition a badger judges the arrival of spring according to its shadow as opposed to a groundhog2. There are also similarities to the pagan festival of Imbioc on the Celtic calendar2. Traditionally, some cultures celebrate the first day of spring as the vernal equinox around March 21, while others consider this the midpoint of spring34. An alternative theory for groundhog day is that the celebration arises from confusion or compromise between these two schools of thought5.

The first celebrations in the U.S. are attributed to german settlers in Pennsylvania from the 18th and 19th century. The first documented American reference was from a storekeeper named James Morris, dated February 4, 1841, in Morgantown Pennsylvania6.

Accuracy

Groundhog day organizers claim the groundhogs' predictions are between 75% and 90% accurate7. According to a Canadian study over the past 30 to 40 years across 13 cities found that the groundhog's predictions were accurate only 37% of the time7. Records by the Stormfax Weather Almanac kept since 1887, show the accuracy of the groundhog from Punxsutawney, PA to be accurate 39% of the time6. Nevertheless, the tradition lives on.

Celebration

The largest groundhog day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, which has drawn in crowds of over 20,000 people since at least 18868. Today, the holiday is celebrated early in the morning when people watch, either in person or on tv, as the groundhog emerges from its den. In Pennsylvania, groundhog day is frequently celebrated with social events including feasts and speeches during a closely related celebration called Fersommling9. The holiday received widespread attention after the 1993 film Groundhog day came out.

Celebrations

Thursday 10 August Week 32 | Laurence OWaning Gibbous

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