The groundhog takes over the news today as the most famous among them, Punxsutawney Phil, is hauled out of his hibernation to look for his shadow in front of national news cameras. But, did you know?
Groundhog's Day began in 1887 or 1841 depending on the source! "Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, ( the mid point between the winter and spring soltice) when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State."
Other states have since found their own groundhogs and go through a similar ritual locally.
And, "in 1723, the Delaware Indians settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a campsite halfway between the Allegheny and the Susquehanna Rivers. The town is 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, at the intersection of Route 36 and Route 119. The Delawares considered groundhogs honorable ancestors. According to the original creation beliefs of the Delaware Indians, their forebears began life as animals in "Mother Earth" and emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men."
Who knew groundhogs had such a venerable history. We have attempted to trap several of these in our Collinsville yard the past several years with no luck. They just won't take the bait. But they hunker down in the ground in the back of our yard, heading out to waddle around the neighborhood when it warms up. These guys are huge, but fairly non-plussed about much of anything.