Groundhog Day or Hedgehog Day?

February 2, 2017

National Geographic News talks about Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil, and the weather. They include a look at the origins of February 2nd forecasting, which began with the Roman Empire, when folks considered the weather on Candlemas to predict future weather.

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(LifeSkills mascot “Squillex” the Hedgehog predicts healthy and drug-free youth)

Legend has it that the Romans also believed that conditions during the first days of February were good predictors of future weather, but the empire looked to hedgehogs for their forecasts.

These two traditions melded in Germany and were brought over to the United States by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. Lacking hedgehogs, the German settlers substituted native groundhogs in the ritual, and Groundhog Day was born.

So have we’ve been using the wrong animal all these years? Should we instead say “Happy Hedgehog Day”?

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