February 2nd 2017
February 2 is groundhog day! And what did Wiarton Willie & Shubenacadie Sam have to say? They agree that there will be an early Spring in 2017!
But now for a little history ...
What Do People Do?
Many Canadians celebrate Groundhog Day. Some Christian churches also celebrate Candlemas on this day, while others use Groundhog Day to take down their Christmas decorations.
Groundhog Day is growing more and more popular in Canada. There is a festival in Wiarton, Bruce County, Ontario, where the town groundhog, Wiarton Willie, delivers his “prediction” early in the morning on February 2 every year.
Groundhog Day is not a public holiday in Canada. However, areas around parks and some streets may be busy or congested in towns where Groundhog Day events are popular.
Early or Late Spring?
Thousands of years ago when animalism and nature worship were prevalent, people in the part of Europe where Germany is today, believed that the badger had the power to predict the coming of spring. They watched the badger to know when to plant their crops.
This tradition was brought over to North America, predominantly to Pennsylvania in the United States, where it was the groundhog, not the badger, which made these “predictions”.
According to folklore, if the groundhog sees its shadow on February 2 it will return to its burrow, indicating that there will be six more weeks of winter. If it does not see its shadow, then spring is on the way.
The Groundhog Day concept first became popular in Canada in 1956 when Wiarton Willie became a household name for his early February weather predictions. Wiarton’s Groundhog Day festival grew as Willie’s fame increased. It became one of the largest winter festivals in Bruce County, Canada.
There are also other groundhogs in different parts of Canada. For example, Shubenacadie Sam is reportedly the first groundhog in the country to stick its head out on Groundhog Day. Other groundhogs include: Gary the Groundhog in Ontario, Brandon Bob in Manitoba and Balzac Billy in Alberta.