Groundhog Day

An interesting holiday is coming on Monday, February 2 – Groundhog Day. Groundhog day is not a federal or religious holiday, so there is no vacation from work or school, but it is an interesting day to learn about.

What is a groundhog?

A groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, is a small, furry (covered with hair) animal that looks like a very fat squirrel. It can weigh 5-9 pounds (2-4 kg), and it lives under the ground in a hole. In the fall months, the groundhog eats a lot and gets very fat. Then it hibernates (sleeps) through the winter months, like a bear.

What is Groundhog Day?

Groundhog

photo credit: Eric Bégin via photopin cc

Groundhog Day is always on February 2, which is about halfway between autumn and spring. On Groundhog Day, the groundhog tells us if winter will continue for six more weeks, or if spring will come early. Here is what happens:

  • The groundhog comes out of its burrow (a hole in the ground where a groundhog lives).
  • If the groundhog sees its shadow, then winter will continue for six more weeks, it gets scared and goes back into its burrow to sleep some more.
  • If the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, then the groundhog comes out of hibernation, and we know that spring will come early.

How do we know whether the groundhog sees its shadow or not?

A groundhog cannot talk, so we have to guess a little based on the weather. If the day is very sunny, we say that the groundhog saw its shadow, which means we will have six more weeks of winter. If the weather is cloudy or rainy on Groundhog Day, then the groundhog cannot see its shadow, and spring will come early.

Where did Groundhog Day start?

American Groundhog Day started in Pennsylvania in the 1800s. We believe it was a German custom, and when many Germans moved to Pennsylvania, they brought this custom with them.

Your Turn

Did you learn something new about Groundhog Day? Take this quiz to test your understanding!

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