What is Groundhogs Day? An American tradition that dates back over 200 years, Groundhog Day is a celebration where Americans gather around in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to watch a groundhog predict the weather for the next six weeks. Even though the day is not a public holiday, it is widely observed throughout the United States of America!
Every year on February 2nd, a groundhog is said to forecast the weather by looking for his shadow. If the Sun is out and shining, and the groundhog sees it, it is said to give six more weeks of winter. However, if the weather is cloudy, the forecast is of an early spring.
Due to the weather being different in the different parts of the States, may town in Canada and the U.S have their own groundhogs for weather prediction with their own traditions and cultures for the Groundhog Day. How fun is that!
These worksheets contain a number of different activities using a dedicated set of vocabulary words related to the Groundhog Day celebration, including mazes, word search, fill in the blanks, scrambled words, word wall flash cards, acrostic poems, crossword puzzles, and more. Last but not least, a KWHL (know, what, how, learn) diagram is included to help students pick a topic to explore in more depth. Where did this crazy holiday come from anyway? It all stems from Dutch country in Pennsylvania. While the Ground Hog is as right as a coin flip we keep at it. Come on, we all know its fun!
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This is a reading passage with questions to follow below. They are large rodents, the largest of the species of the
squirrel family. They have brown fur, round bodies, bushy tails, and
strong legs with sharp claws which they use to dig into the ground.
We often lose sight that this is what it is all about.
The History of Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day is a much-loved North American tradition observed every year on February 2. It originates from the Pennsylvanian Dutch superstition about the emergence of a hedgehog from its burrow on the aforementioned date.
According to the tradition, if a hedgehog comes out of its burrow and is able to see its shadow because of the clear weather, it will immediately go back into its den. As a result, winter will continue for 6 more weeks. On the other hand, spring would come early if the hedgehog doesn’t see its shadow due to the thick clouds and overcast conditions.
How It All Started
Groundhog Day actually has its roots in Candlemas (also spelled as "Candlemass"), the ancient Christian tradition in which the clergy used to bless and distribute candles required during winters. These candles were considered a representation of how cold and long a winter season was likely to be.
German settlers in Pennsylvania continued and reinvented this tradition by selecting a hedgehog to predict the weather. Later on, they switched to groundhogs, owing to their greater presence in the Keystone State. The very first Groundhog Day was celebrated in the area on February 2, 1887. The official event, featuring a rodent meteorologist, took place at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
This inaugural celebration was the brainchild of Clymer Freas, a local newspaper editor. He sold a bunch of groundhog hunters and business executives (collectively called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club) on the idea. Soon afterwards, the party headed over to a site we all know today as Gobbler’s Knob. That’s where the first groundhog became a weather predictor.
These days, the annual festivities in Punxsutawney are presided over by the Inner Circle, a group of local dignitaries. Members of this clan wear top hats and carry out the official activities in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. Apparently, they speak to the groundhog in "Groundhogese."
Each year, tens of thousands of people attend Groundhog Day proceedings in Punxsutawney, which is a borough with a population of around 6,000. The entire tradition was aptly depicted in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. Interestingly, the filming took place in Woodstock, Illinois.
Are These Critters Accurate?
Even though sunny winter days can be an indication of cold and dry air ahead, we should give science a bit more credit and refrain from appointing groundhogs in place of our meteorologists for the time being!
According to studies conducted by the Canadian Weather Service and the National Climatic Data Center, weather predictions by Punxsutawney Phil (a groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania who’s a key figure in the annual Groundhog Day celebration at the borough) have a success rate of just about 50%. For some context, Staten Island Chuck tends to be accurate about 80% of the time.
Also called "woodchucks," groundhogs are part of a group of big ground squirrels. They are collectively referred to as "marmots." These marmots can live in captivity for a decade and have the ability to grow as much as 25 inches. Legend has it that Punxsutawney Phil is over 125 years old. This is primarily due to the magical punch he imbibes each summer.
In general, groundhogs spend the winters in hibernation. This leads to a considerable reduction in their body temperature and metabolic rate. By the time February rolls around, they’ve lost almost half of their weight. When these bristly rodents are out and about in friendlier weather, they like to eat succulent plants, insects, and wild berries. They’re also quite fond of agricultural crops and garden veggies. So, if you’ve got a farm to tend to, make sure those groundhogs don’t ruin your produce that you’ve probably worked very hard for!