Groundhog Day is February 2nd, and it has become an American celebration for the entire family to enjoy.  According to the Pennsylvania Dutch legend, if the groundhog comes out of it’s burrows and sees it’s shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.  If the groundhog does not see it’s shadow, there will be an early spring.  Although research has not found a connection with the groundhog’s weather predicting abilities, some people still believe that the groundhog is nature’s born meteorologist.

The Pennsylvania Dutch, who were immigrants from German speaking regions of Europe, brought the tradition of Groundhog Day to America.  The first time Groundhog Day was introduced was on February 2, 1846 in  Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  The first official day of a Groundhog Day celebration was also in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in 1887.  Today Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the location where all the Groundhog Day festivities started, is still the most famous Groundhog Day celebration in the US.

The Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania festivities draw in 40,000 people every year.  The celebrations at Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania were one of the inspirations of the 1993 film, Groundhog Day.  In this flick, Phil Murphy stars as a weatherman who lives the same day again and again and tickles our funny bone.  The movie helped make Groundhog Day in Pennsylvania even more popular.

In our modern world, Live Stream makes the celebration at Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania  accessible to all.  In southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges hold many social events the include food, speeches and many other forms of live entertainment for the entire family to enjoy.

From Pennsylvania, Groundhog Day spread across the US.  In Staten Island, Chuck is the official groundhog of New York City.  Dunkirk Dave is the groundhog of Western New York.  Bob Will, who runs a rescue shelter for groundhogs, handles  Dunkirk Dave.  In Washington DC, Potomac Phil is the official groundhog.

In addition to predicting the weather, groundhogs help man in many other ways.  As omnivores, they eat grubs, grasshoppers, insects and snakes that are harmful to plants.  The dens that the groundhogs create to survive are also used by other animals such as skunks, red foxes and cottontail rabbits.  The fox and skunks feed on mice, grasshoppers, beetles and other insects that wreck a farmer’s harvest thus aiding farmers and saving their crops.  Groundhogs are also used in medical research for Hepatitis  B-induced liver cancer.  They are also used in biomedical research.

Since they are so cute, groundhogs have become the center of attention at various zoos.  Many children simply love groundhogs.  In the wild, they can live a maximum of six years with an average lifespan of two to three years.  In captivity, they can live up to 14 years.

As we are experiencing a harsh winter, let’s hope the groundhog does not see it’s shadow.  We are all hoping for an early spring.  We will have to keep our fingers crossed and wait to see what happens on Groundhog Day.