2-2-11: From Badger to Groundhog
It’s February 2nd – also known as Groundhog Day, when small woodchucks all over the country peep out of their holes, and let us know exactly how much more ice and snow we can expect. And the tradition is spreading–today, it wasn’t just Punxsutawney Phil who made a weather prediction, but also Maryland Murray in Cumberland, and Staten Island Chuck in New York City, to name a few.
How did groundhogs become great predictors of weather? And how long have we been looking to them for forecasts?
In fact, the tradition hearkens back to the pagan holidays of the Celtic calendar–and it used to be a badger that was the star of the show, not the groundhog.
Sheilah talks it over with Don Yoder, Professor Emeritus of Folklife Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s the author of a book called Groundhog Day.
For introducing kids to Groundhog Day, Professor Yoder recommends the book Gretchen Groundhog, It’s Your Day, by Abby Levine, pictures by Nancy Cote.