Sunday, February 03, 2008


More Pagan origins!
Belated Happy Ground Hog’s Day!
Do you know the history of Ground Hog’s Day, or why indeed we use a ground hog for the prediction? Or most important, how accurate is he (she?)?
In 1723, the Delaware (more correctly called the Lenapé) Indians settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a campsite halfway between the Allegheny and the Susquehanna Rivers. The town is 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, at the intersection of Route 36 and Route 119. The (Lenapes) considered groundhogs honorable ancestors. According to the original creation beliefs of the (Lenape) Indians, their forebears began life as animals in "Mother Earth" and emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men.
The name Punxsutawney comes from the Indian name for the location"ponksad-uteney" which means "the town of the sandflies." The name woodchuck comes from the Indian legend of "Wojak,the groundhog" considered by them to be their ancestral grandfather.
When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day, which has an early origin in the pagan celebration of Imbolc. It came at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition held that if the weather was fair, the second half of Winter would be stormy and cold. For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of Winter. A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home. The day's weather continued to be important. If the sun came out February 2, halfway between Winter and Spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.
The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:
February 4, 1841 - from Morgantown, Berks County (Pennsylvania) storekeeper James Morris' diary..."Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."

The groundhog's seasonal forecasting accuracy is somewhat low. Phil's Winter prognostications have been correct only 39% of the time.
So it would seem to me that we might want to reverse the prediction, eh?
Most of this info came from

Here on the shore, we do not have any ground hogs... nope, not one woodchuck to be found. Reason? No place for them to burrow. Well, that is not true, let me say it this way, we are so close to sea level, there are times, when we have had a normal rainy season, that digging down just a foot or two, say to plant a tree or camellia, will give you a hole that quickly fills with water. In other words, the poor devils would drown here. Guess that is why we don't have chipmunks, either, huh? I do miss the chippies.

Well, then, just what do we do for Ground Hog Day?????
WE USE A POSSUM, THAT'S WHAT WE DO!!!!!! (What did you expect me to say???) And MY possum says spring is on its way! But, she reminded me, don't forget, it always snows on the daffodils. Keep that in mind!
(Last year's daffodil snow.)

BTW - we made a quick run over to Virginia Beach yesterday - haven't been over there in 3 years. That's pitiful, isn't it? Closest city of any real size and we never get there. Sigh. Anyway, we were 60 miles south of here and there were daffodils in bloom in one front yard. I am glad I took my eyes off the road for a second to see them! That was exciting!

They say we will have a couple of days in the 60s this week. That will be wonderful. I desperately need to get some work done out in the yard. Even the bird feeders are empty!

My weeks are running short on days lately, tho. Do yours ever do that? Last week was so packed full, I am ashamed of how dirty my house is and I am so far behind in my classes... But, I got a call from Hospice and had to go. And I am back at school... yep, you read that right. I know I was reminded that I said you couldn't pay me to go back - well, they aren't, paying me, that is. I am a volunteer. I am tutoring a couple 2nd graders, bless their hearts. So, life just got busier...

Anyway, I will do my best to get caught up.

Fellow bloggers - I am trying to catch up with you, too - that is how I spend my lunch time... but if it is warm, I eat out in the yard in the sun! I am reading, tho, honest!
OK, can I go back to bed now??????


Rachel said...

Well, the old groundhog saw his shadow here and hopped back in to sleep for 6 more weeks!! Ha!! I don't really pay much attention to his predictions though!

Too bad you don't have any of those critters there. But then again they can be pesky by eating your garden and flowers, so maybe it's a blessing!!

My daffodils are just poking through the ground. I just saw them today!!

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

What a nice posting. I enjoyed the history level. Not to be outdone by our American cousins we have Wiarton Willy who comes out on Groundhog Day. Wiarton is a lovely little town at the base of the Bruce Peninsula. Willy is an albino groundhog. A couple of years ago he died just before his Day. A substitute could not be found so the propped his carcass up and faked his prediction event.
They have since got another albino

ancient one said...

Hey .. thanks for coming over and leaving your possum it so much more than the groundhog's prediction!

We enjoyed those 80's yesterday too! Oh, I would have loved to see the beach yesterday. Maybe soon!

Loved the history lesson!!