February 5, 2015
This past week Punxsutawney Phil made his annual appearance from Gobbler’s Knob, and it is no surprise to anyone that six more weeks of winter was his prediction. With historic snowfalls and the deluge of extraordinary winter storms happening all cross the country, hearing more bad news from the likes of a groundhog is probably not as adorable as it may have intended to be when it began 128 years ago.
The American tradition began when Germans settled in Pennsylvania and, ultimately, with the founding of The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club back in 1887. Although the roots of Groundhog Day can be traced back even further to Germans in Europe and even with the Romans, where predicting the weather became associated with Candlemas Day.
Candlemas Day was an ancient Christian festival marking the middle of winter, which was a trying time where food was scarce and illness common. On this day all candles to be used for the coming year were brought to the church to be blessed during the “mass of candles.” The Romans believed that candles scared away evil spirits. Christians believed that it was a ‘guiding light’ to carry them ‘out of the darkness.’ In that day people believed that candles protected against illness and plague by providing light and warmth. It was on Candlemas Day that people began to believe that its weather predicted the outcome of the rest of the winter.
A Farmer should, on Candlemas Day,
Have half his corn and half his hay
For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.
How exactly did a groundhog get thrown into the mix? The German proverb tells of a badger who peeps out of his hole on Candlemas Day, however, groundhogs are more common in the fields of Pennsylvania. If you are wondering just how this groundhog named Phil became so famous, it just so happens that the editor of The Punxsutawney Spirit was also a member of The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. In 1887, after it was touted that this particular groundhog had a knack for predicting weather, Phil’s fame took off. And the rest, they say, is history.
I wonder if, like us, Emma, Miss Mary, Margrethe and Anna anticipated Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions each year? I imagine them hunkered down together, passing those long cold days together. I can only predict how they might have passed their time, but I’m sure they enjoyed all things hyggeligt (Danish cultural concept meaning cozy) as much as we all do today.
Speaking of passing the time, just last week I ventured out to visit Mormor and her friends at The Danish Home. They told me how they love to play card games such as 66 and Skærvindsel during these long winter days. We had a great time enjoying each other’s company as they taught me, and we nearly forgot all about the frigid weather outside!
If you need some inspiration while passing the time, visit our newest Pinterest Board for recipes and a whole lot more. It’ll warm you right up!