February 2nd is Groundhog Day and Canadians may be happy to hear that our own Wiarton Willie predicts an early spring for 2021.

However in the United States, Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter!
The Groundhog Day lore holds that the emergence of the groundhog from his burrow will foretell the weather for the next six weeks.
If he sees his shadow, there is said to be six more weeks of winter and he will go back into his burrow for six more weeks.
If he does not see his shadow, spring will arrive early and the groundhog will remain outside.
Where did this all start?

The beginning of February falls roughly halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and has historically been a significant time of the year in many cultures.

For Celts, it was the time of Imbolc which was observed in anticipation of the birth of farm animals and the planting of crops.

During the Middle Ages some believed that the badger or bear would awaken from hibernation and the oncoming weather was also predicted by the presence or absence of the animal’s shadow. The legend was carried from Europe to the US.

The first Groundhog Day in North America started in 1887 and is attributed to German settlers in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where the town continues to host a week-long festival in celebration.

In Canada the tradition started in 1956 with our famous Wiarton Willie from Wiarton, Ontario and is celebrated annually at the Wiarton Willie Festival.

How does Wiarton Willie know it is his big day? He doesn’t, both Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil are kept in houses and awakened from their hibernation to participate in the festivities and are cared for year round like the celebrities that they are.

Other groundhogs across Canada include Balzac Billy (Alberta), Brandon Bob and Winnipeg Willow (Manitoba), Gary the Groundhog (Kleinburg), Oil Springs Ollie (Ontario), Fred la marmotte (Québec), Two Rivers Tunnel (Cape Breton Island), Shubenacadie Sam (Nova Scotia) and Dundas Donna (Toronto).

#ApartTogether we look forward to sunnier days.
#groundhogday #wiartonwillie #earlyspring #springequinox