What Is Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is a fun holiday celebrated on February 2 in the United States. It’s also the theme of a 1990s comedy film. Here’s what Groundhog Day is all about.

History of Groundhog Day

A groundhog munching on grass

This special day began in America in 1887. German immigrants brought the tradition to Pennsylvania and called it Candlemas. On this day, Germans used a badger to predict how much longer winter would last. In the U.S. a groundhog was used for this purpose. Groundhog Day is not an official holiday, so stores and restaurants keep regular hours. Groundhog Day is on a Saturday this year.

The Myth of Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is just a fun story. Most people don’t believe it’s true. On this date, a groundhog comes out of his burrow. If he sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, spring will come early. The animal’s name is Punxsutawney Phil, named after the small town in Pennsylvania. This is where the first “official” Groundhog Day was celebrated. Every year the event takes place in Punxsutawney.

Groundhog Day Rises in Popularity

Groundhog Day became much more popular in 1992 when the hit movie Groundhog Day was released. Bill Murray played a weatherman covering the holiday in Punxsutawney. After the movie, the size of the annual event grew from 2,000 people to more than 40,000 people. As of 2018, the groundhog has been correct 14 times. He has also been wrong 16 times. So don’t make your spring plans based on his prediction.

Discovering unique holidays and traditions in the U.S. can make learning English even more fun! If you are trying to learn English, consider enrolling at ALCC American Language. We offer a variety of English courses and have served international students since 1975. Call us at (212) 736-2373 to learn more.

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