People love watching to see if their local groundhog sees its shadow on February 2nd, but why do we have this odd tradition? While groundhogs can be a pain to gardeners, they are celebrated across the US for their apparent ability to foresee the coming of Spring weather. So why do Americans celebrate Groundhog Day?
In a small region of Pennsylvania, American settlers learned how to survive the new frontier from the Delaware Indians. The Native Americans had a tradition which celebrated the woodchuck, which they believed to have a strong connection with “mother earth.” According to their traditions, humanity originated as animals underground, who emerged from the Earth. Because of this, the natives recognized groundhogs to be closely connected with humanity’s ancestors. This legend became popular amongst white settlers, who continued the tradition. Groundhog day was established in the town of Punxsutawney in 1887. Since then, a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil would be the center of a town-wide festival.
According to tradition, if Phil sees his shadow, he is startled back to his hole for another six weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, it means that spring has arrived. While this is just tradition, people around the country await the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil and other local zoo-dwelling groundhogs.
Groundhogs in Your Yard
Groundhogs in your yard can be a big problem, shadow or not. Groundhogs can wreak havoc on gardens and flowers. They like to burrow below sheds and disturb foundations. Holes left by groundhogs can be dangerous tripping hazards. If you have a groundhog living on your property, you should hire a humane wildlife removal company to remove it. This is especially important during the springtime, as female woodchucks may be caring for young within its burrow.