Will the Groundhog See His Shadow?

Tomorrow is February 2, the traditional date on which we look to a rodent to tell us whether to expect six more weeks of winter weather or an early spring.

As always, it depends on which groundhog, or colloquially, the woodchuck, you're looking at, and where that groundhog is located. 

If you live in Braintree and see a groundhog in your backyard tomorrow, it may or may not see it's shadow, depending on when you see it.

Feb. 2 in Braintree is going to be partly sunny with a high near 32 degrees, with a chance of snow after 10 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Increasing clouds throughout the day.

According to the official Groundhog Day website for The Punxsatawney Groundhog Club, host of the biggest celebration of a rodent in the country with it's own Punxsatawney Phil, Groundhog Day is "also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.

If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

According to an old English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, supposedly brought this tradition to the Teutons, or Germans, who picked it up and concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather, which they interpolated as the length of the "Second Winter."


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