2.02.2016

Groundhogs, Badgers, and Bears, Oh My!


Have you ever wondered about the origins of Groundhog Day? How could a rodent make us believe it can predict the weather, inspire grand celebrations, and bring us one of the best Bill Murray movies of all time?

Going back centuries, we find part of its beginnings in European weather lore. Except they believed a hibernating bear was the creature to look to for a prediction. Now imagine what it would be like if America had adopted a bear instead of a groundhog as their meteorologist. Bear Day? Bill Murray certainly wouldn't be driving around in a truck with one.

Groundhog Day also bears similarities to the ancient Pagan celebration of Imbolc. It is a time for feasting and celebrating the lengthening of days. They looked to badgers and serpents for their weather predictions. Badger Day or Serpent Day? Nope, honey badger doesn't want anything to do with that.

While the U.S. adopted Groundhog Day in 1887, Alaska celebrates Marmot Day because they have very few groundhogs in the state. Yes, those ground squirrels are cute, but Marmot Day doesn't have quite the same ring as Groundhog Day.


In a time of satellites and radar, many people still look to animals to predict our weather. No matter how far we've come technologically, we're still a superstitious lot. Even when the groundhog is right less than half the time, especially in recent years.

Don't go making plans based on how the half-awake animals behave. Instead, spend today watching Groundhog Day over and over and over and over again. It will be a better use of your time.

33 comments:

  1. Haha just the pic from Groundhog Day makes me laugh. Love that movie. And I didn't know about Marmot Day, how funny.

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    1. Another little Alaskan trivia fact for your stories! ;)

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  2. People do have their superstitions, particularly when it comes to weather. Although I prefer to get my weather forecasts from meteorologists, I'm still hoping the groundhog was correct about an early spring. :)

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    1. Me too! We watched the groundhog on TV this morning and my son did a happy dance to hear he didn't see his shadow. :)

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  3. Great post. I wonder who would be brave enough to wake up a bear and haul it out of its den? That might be a one-time "honor." I have a groundhog living under my garden shed but he doesn't make an appearance until the snow thaws.

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    1. Ha! Yes, the honoree for waking the bear! I don't have a groundhog, but I have a pair of bunnies who are back already.

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  4. Yeah, we are superstitious creatures. Interesting to learn of the roots of Groundhog Day.

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    1. What's even funnier is that the president of the groundhog association used a magic cane to talk to Punxsutawney Phil and they give Phil a magic potion every seven years to make him live longer!

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  5. Such a fun post! And the Bill Murray movie is definitely the best part about today :)

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    1. I only managed to watch parts, but at least I saw that much!

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  6. Love the movie. I"m pretty sure I've memorized most of the lines.

    I wonder how accurate the groundhog is compared to modern day meteorologists.

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    1. Awesome, Jay! The groundhog is about 37% accurate. I hope modern meteorologists are better than that!

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  7. You're right. Marmot Day doesn't have the same ring to it. :) I think the animals are as confused by the changing weather as we are.

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    1. You can imagine what they're thinking after waking up from a long sleep, stumbling around and this great giant shadow looms in front of them!

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  8. I think The Revenant might argue against the claim that man and bear can't tango together. Just not in the kid friendly kind of way.

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  9. i always found it quite funny that humans, who have sent men to the moon, can look at far away galaxies, can cure horrible diseases and invent wonderful things still look to a rodent for the weather. Love that a marmot is used in Alaska-this day I just find funny

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  10. I actually had a post pop up on my FB about the origins of Groundhog day.

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    1. Everyone wants to know the details and then watch Bill Murray!

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  11. And over, ... And over,... And over,... And, why yes! I CAN play the piano!

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  12. Man, I totally missed Groundhog Day. How did that happen?

    I guess if the Farmer's Almanac is still being sold, there's no reason why groundhogs can't also have their day in the sun... or shade.

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    1. Time has been flying by quick this year!

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  13. Interesting facts about the day, warm greetings!

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  14. Modern weather prediction doesn't seem hugely more accurate than the far older traditions - and at least some of them involved feasting.

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  15. Maybe we could all write flash fiction stories with various animal predictors or predictions in honor of groundhog day . . . that might be as much fun as watching the movie. Hmm. I'll take reindeer predicting snowstorms, or maybe seagulls predicting the surfability of waves on a distant planet, or maybe some mythological creature like a dragon predicting wind patterns.

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    1. Or, maybe I could remember to switch from my "teacher" account to my writing account for comments . . . sigh.

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    2. That sounds like fun! The flash stories, I mean! :)

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  16. Hi Christine .. I've seen Groundhog Day once I think! but the story line is fun - and yes we are superstitious ... holding our finger up to see which way the wind blows ... but the sky has changed and moved over the millennia .. who knows - we cannot understand Mother Nature just yet! Cheers Hilary

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    1. I completely agree. Mother Nature will keep changing and keep us guessing. :) Have a lovely day.

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