Today is one of the weirdest traditions that exists. As we rely on a Groundhog to tell us how soon winter will be over. It goes back to at least 1841 when in a diary a store keeper noted that “according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.” This is similar to other ideas notably poems which come from England, Scotland and Germany which all indicate that if it is sunny winter will be a bit longer as opposed to a cloudy day which would indicate that more spring like weather is to come. This is tied to Imbolc the date between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, It’s a pagan thing. There are other traditions from Europe where it’s a bear awakening from hibernation and it seeing it’s shadow which indicates if winter will remain or be over.
There are several Groundhog Day celebrations celebrated across North America, the largest one is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where about 40,000 people attended yearly since around 1886. This is a strange tradition but it did give us one great movie Groundhog Day, which is bound to be on television somewhere today. There also is a musical version as well which got raves in London and is opening on Broadway in March. I haven’t heard anything from the show so I haven’t a clue about how the music is or how much it differs from the movie.