February 2nd is Groundhog Day
February 2nd is Groundhog Day. What does this mean? Every year on February 2nd, Canadians wait to hear if the groundhog will see its shadow. If it does, we will have six more weeks of winter. If it doesn't, we will have an early spring.
Groundhog Day is celebrated across Canada and the United States. Children learn about it in day care, school and libraries. Adults hear about it on the radio and television or read about it in the newspaper.
Why February 2nd?
February 2nd is the midpoint between the first day of Winter in December and the first day of Spring in March. This date has long been used to predict the weather.
Wiarton Willie is the most famous Canadian groundhog. He lives in Wiarton, acommunity of 2,300 on the Bruce Peninsula between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. It is 225 km northwest of Toronto.
On Groundhog Day each year, Willie takes part in the Wiarton Willie Festival. His job is to predict if we will have an early spring or not. This festival is one of the largest winter events in Ontario.
Other famous Canadian groundhogs: Balzac Billie in Alberta; Brandon Bob in Manitoba; Schubeacadie Sam in Nova Scotia; and Watson Willie in Saskatchewan.
What is a Groundhog?
A groundhog belongs to the same family as squirrels, gophers and chipmunks. They eat mostly grass and other plants. Groundhogs sleep, raise their young and hibernate in burrows underground.
Groundhogs are fat little animals with a flattened head. They commonly weigh 2 to 4 kg. They measure 40 to 65 cm in total length, including a short bushy tale about 15 cm long. Their double layer of fur is usually brownish gray. However, Wiarton Willie is an all white or albino groundhog.
Other names for groundhog: marmot, woodchuck, whistle pig, land beaver.
Is It Possible? Can a Groundhog Predict the Weather?
Will Wiarton Willie predict an early spring this year? With a major snowstorm on its way this week, we can only hope so. The truth is Groundhog Day marks the midpoint of winter. It reminds us that Spring will soon be on its way.