The True History of Groundhog Day

Over at HMS blog, Duncan Maxwell Anderson explains Candlemas customs –which include Groundhog Day! Who knew?

So, why does Candlemas fall on Groundhog Day? Groundhog Day comes from it. In Catholic Europe, they say that if Candlemas is clear and bright, there will be six more weeks of winter. In Germany, this idea became, “If the bear comes out and sees his shadow, he will grumpily go back into his cave, and winter will last another six weeks.” Then this feat of prediction was ascribed to German badgers. And since badgers are not found in the eastern U.S., German immigrants to this country were obliged to depend for meteorological guidance on a species of marmot called by the Indians “weejak” or woodchuck, also called…the groundhog. This Sunday, if Punxatawney Phil sticks his nose out, you tell me if he isn’t carrying a candle-holder. He’s Catholic, you know.

Go read the whole thing, it’s really interesting.