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Shadow or No Shadow? Explaining the Tradition of Groundhog Day

Posted on 02-02-2017

Every year on February 2nd, folks gather in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to watch a groundhog named Phil decide on spring’s arrival. Tradition holds that when Phil comes out of his hibernation hole to check on the weather, if he sees his shadow then we will have 6 more weeks of winter, but if not, spring is around the corner!

The tradition started in 1887, and since then, people have gathered to watch the groundhog make his prediction about the season changes. Interestingly, it has been found that Phil’s predictions are only right 39% of the time, but people still gather to keep the tradition.

So what exactly is a groundhog? This is the question your little one might ask. They’re bigger than you may think! When fully grown, they measure in at up to 10 pounds, and they build burrows for homes that can be anywhere from 8 to 66 feet long. It’s inside these burrows that the groundhog hibernates during the cold winter months.

When February 2nd arrives, the groundhog wants to know if it’s safe to come out, or if he needs to hibernate for another six weeks. It’s been said that if he sees his shadow, it scares him! So he runs away to sleep some more, and he’ll wake up in six more weeks to finally welcome spring. If he doesn’t see his shadow, he knows it’s safe to come out, and that spring has finally arrived!

If you want to see Punxsutawney Phil make his prediction this year, you can watch it online at www.visitpa.com/groundhog-day-live-stream/. Start a new tradition with your little one, and watch Phil make his prediction! Will we get an early spring, or will we have 6 more weeks of winter? We’ll find out on February 2nd!

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