Long before meteorologists perfected the science of weather prediction, The Old Farmer’s Almanac took on the challenge of predicting the weather for the coming year. Today, the centuries old publication continues to speak to all walks of life with its forecasts, planting charts, recipes, and yes, folklore. So, will the groundhog see his shadow?
The Back Story
February 2, the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, was typically the time when European farmers determined when to plant. “So, they tried to forecast whether there would be an early spring or a lingering winter” with the help of their forest friends.
According to legend, if a bear saw his shadow on a sunny February 2, farmers in France and England prepared for a continuation of winter’s snow and cold. (In Germany, they kept their eye on the badger.) However, if February 2 proved to be cloudy and dark, with NO shadow being cast, that meant that “warmth and rain would thaw out the fields and have them ready for planting.”
Our “Groundhog Day” is an extension of that folklore, and here’s how. “In the 1800’s, German immigrants to Pennsylvania brought the tradition with them. Finding no badgers there, they adopted the groundhog to fit the lore.” And so, as the legend goes, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on February 2, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does not, spring is just around the bend.
Information source: The Old Farmer’s 2021 Almanac (https://www.almanac.com/ )