Happy Hedgehog Day!

willieIt’s Febuary 2nd and this means for many of us, listening in on the announcement of whether Wiarton, Ontario’s groundhog, Wiarton Willie and Phil from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has seen their shadows to forecast another 6 weeks of winter or not.  It has been a tradition that has gone on for over 200 centuries.

The theory behind Groundhog Day  originated in 18th century America and was based on the European tradition. The belief behind the day was that if the sun was shining on Candlemas Day (February 2) winter would stick around for another 6 weeks. However, if the sky was cloudy, spring would make an early appearance.

Before Groundhog Day, a thousand years ago, the Romans observed something similar on the same day.  However, instead of using a groundhog, a hedgehog was used (hedgehogs being a cousin of the groundhog).  Two Greek authors, Aristotle and Plutarch tell us that hedgehogs have an uncanny ability to sense changes in wind direction and thereby predict weather; they also report that a man from Cyzicus or Byzantium (presumably a Greek and far from the Roman homeland) got famous for predicting the weather on the basis of hedgehog behavior. Moreover, a similar claim that hedgehogs can predict winds appears in a first century A.D. Roman author, Pliny the Elder. This alleged ability to foretell future weather may relate to the notion that a putative Hedgehog Day inspired modern Groundhog Day.

No matter what, people all over the world will be waiting anxiously to hear whether there will be six more weeks of winter or if there will be an early spring.

ETA: According to here, Phil from Punxsutawney saw his shadow, announcing another 6 weeks of winter.  Wiarton Willie also saw his shadow.  The poem below was found here.

His Shadow Did Appear
There was a shadow on the ground
Which means that spring will not come round.
Six more weeks of winter fun.
Hopefully we’ll see some sun.

Children laugh as they ride on their sleds
Blankets warm us while we curl up in bed
Fires will roar while the tea kettle steams
Arenas awake as hockey fans scream

Snowflakes fall from the sky up above
Valentine’s Day it’s the season of love.
Soup, casseroles, chili, homemade bread
Perhaps you prefer a restaurant instead

We have lots of great one’s from which you can choose
So get in your car you’ve got nothing to lose.
Head for the North, South, East, or West
Which ever direction will bring you the best.

Four seasons of fun is what you get here.
With plenty to do throughout the whole year.
There are just two things that you really must do
Visit our Willie and bring a camera too.
C. Wyonch

Posted on February 2, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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