Ground Hog Day! Spring is just around the corner!

February 2 Ground Hog Day Groundhog Day - День сурка, когда сурок просыпается после зимней спячки; по поведению сурка после выхода из норы предсказывают дату прихода весны. Pennsylvania’s official celebration of Groundhog Day began on February 2nd, 1886. The groundhog was given the name “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary” and his hometown thus called the “Weather Capital of the World.” His debut performance: no shadow — early Spring. Groundhog Day Origins The holiday, which began in Pennsylvania in the 18th-19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European traditions. The holiday has some similarities to the medieval Catholic holiday of Candlemas. It also has similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 1 and also involves weather prognostication. In the early days of Christianity in Europe, clergy would distribute blessed candles to the faithful on February 2 in honor of Candlemas, a holiday celebrating the Virgin Mary’s presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem 40 days after his birth. A lighted candle was placed in windows of the home. Tradition held that the weather on Candlemas was important: clear skies meant an extended winter. Along the way, February 2 also became associated with weather prediction, perhaps due to its proximity to the pagan Celtic festival of Imbolc—also a time of weather prediction —which falls on February 1. This date is at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition held that if the sun came out February 2, halfway between Winter and Spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather. If the sun made an appearance on February 2, an animal would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of Winter. Germans watched a badger for the shadow. Then these two traditions (Christian and Celtic) melded in Germany. In 1723, the Delaware Indians settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a campsite. The Delawares considered groundhogs honorable ancestors. The name Punxsutawney comes from the Indian word which means “the town of the sandflies.” When German immigrants arrived to the United States in the 1700s and settled in Pennsylvania, they brought a tradition of Candlemas Day. Lacking badgers, the German settlers substituted native groundhogs in the ritual, and Groundhog Day was born. The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The hero of this day is the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. The five interesting facts about Punxsutawney Phil Punxsutawney Phil is immortal. According to folklore, Phil was born in 1887, so he is 123 years old. The average groundhog lives less than 10 years, making Phil a statistical anomaly … or not Phil. Fans of Punxsutawney Phil insist a magical “elixir of life” keep Phil looking youthful. Phil’s predictions are 100 percent accurate. Frankly speaking, this is not true. The US National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) estimates Phil’s forecast is correct only about 40 percent of the time. Phil’s got competitors. Phil is not only rodent who predicts weather. There are many other rodents in other states of USA who do the same. But no doubt Phil is the most famous weather predictor. Phil’s presense in the Web. He has his own YouTube channel. And, of course, he’s on Facebook. There’s no Groundhog Day in Alaska. There aren’t many groundhogs in Alaska, so February 2 is Marmot Day in Alaska.