Candlemas/Groundhog Day

2 February 08 | Posted in Animals, U.S. Catholic

When German settlers arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1700s they brought a tradition known as Candlemas day. Candlemas is also associated with the pagan holiday of Imbrolc, which heralds the coming of spring.

German folklore held that on Candlemas day, if a hedgehog saw its shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter. When they migrated to the United States, there were no hedgehogs. The local Indians had great respect for the groundhog which they called “Wojac” (where we get the name “woodchuck”) which they considered an ancestor. So the tradition was changed from a hedgehog to a woodchuck or groundhog.

Groundhog Day” has been celebrated for a long time in the United States. Back on February 4, 1841, a Morgantown, PA shopkeeper named James Morris wrote in his diary..”Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas Day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”

This morning Punxsutawney Phil, our official groundhog, predicted six more weeks of winter. phil.jpg

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