February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day!

We have a groundhog den in our sideyard. Two years ago there were four babies living in the den with their mother. So far, we have not had any problems with the groundhogs and our garden.

The legend of the Groundhog as a weather prophet came from Europe. The legend came along with the immigrants who worked in the coal mines in Punxsutawney, a town in the foothills of Western Pennsylvania. As the story goes, a local news editor tied the legend to the large number of groundhogs in the area.

Although considered a North American holiday by many, Groundhog Day has very deep roots. It evolved out of the  medieval Christian festival of Candlemas, and the ancient pagan celebration St. Brigid's Day.

Candlemas Day and its predecessor St. Brigid's Day fall between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and mark the midpoint of winter.

It was customary for the Europeans to watch for the hedgehog to come out of hibernation every February 2nd. As the legend goes, if the the hedgehog saw its shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter weather. If not, spring was around the corner. When these immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania, the groundhog was simply substituted for the hedgehog.


The average groundhog can weigh anywhere from 7 to 14 pounds. Groundhogs are rodents and are members of the squirrel family. They are clean living herbivores. Clover and alfalfa are their favorite foods.

Groundhogs also love fruits and vegetables, which is why many garden owners refer to them as pests. One reason groundhogs are abundant is that they are immune to the plague and to many diseases. They love cleanliness and their burrows even include bathrooms.


Peacemom said...

Hi Ruta! Cute pics of the groundhog! We have one here, but I think he might be a small pig masquerading as a ground hog, he's HUGE! Thanks for stopping over on my blog! ~Vonnie

Ruta said...

These are not my pics...they are just internet pics. I had some great photos of the baby groundhogs in our yard but couldn't find them :(
I did have to break up a fight between the momma groundhog and our neighbor's cat once...I think the groundhog would have won if I hadn't interrupted the fight!

Dar said...

Love your site. Mountain music, chickens, family, good food, and you snowshoe. It looks as tho you use the new kind...mine are the modified bearpaws and they are getting too heavy for me once the snow piles up on them...how do you like your light weight ones? I almost bought a pair just Mon.
Looks like spring will come no matter if the groundhog sees his shadow or not. Dad always said that the old wives tales have merit.
Thanks for the interesting history.
Stay warm and see you again soon.

Ruta said...

Well thanks for stopping by! We bought new snowshoes for xmas and I love the lightweight shoes!