Why a rodent predicts the weather: The history behind Groundhog Day

Candlemas Day tradition refined by Germans, who brought custom to U.S.

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – February 2 marks a tradition that goes back a very long time: Groundhog Day.

If you missed it Thursday morning, just before 7:30 A.M., Punxsutawney Phil made his prediction. He saw his shadow, which according to legend, means six more weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phil has predicted 6 more weeks of winter

The Groundhog Day holiday actually started as “Candlemas Day” hundreds of years ago. Clergy would hand out candles to the people, and if the weather was good on that day, winter was believed to last longer. If the weather was bad, you were in for an earlier spring.

Germans added a hedgehog and shadow to the tradition, and when German settlers moved to Pennsylvania, they replaced the hedgehog with a groundhog. The first Groundhog Day was celebrated in 1887, according to Groundhog.org.