It’s Groundhog Day in America, but – apart from the Bill Murray film – what does
that mean?

In fact, the spring celebration has nothing to do with living the same day on

We’ve brought together all you need to know about Groundhog Day in ten handy hints.  

10. Groundhogs, otherwise known as woodchucks, are rodents. They are one of the few
animals that do truly hibernate throughout the winter, often building special winter
burrows for their winter sleep. 

9. The legend goes that when the groundhog comes out of his burrow from hibernation,
he will look for his own shadow.  

If it is sunny and he sees it, he will take fright and go back into his hole. Winter
will then carry on for another six weeks. If it is cloudy and he doesn’t see his
shadow, then spring will arrive early.  

8. The tradition began in Pennsylvania in 18th and 19th centuries. Based in ancient
European weather lore where badgers were used to predict the length of winter.  

7. The legend of Groundhog Day has been spotted in two old British songs. In a
Scottish couplet, it says: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two
winters in the year." 

In an English song: “If Candlemas be fair and bright, come, Winter, have another
flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, go Winter, and come not again” 

6. Every year on February 2, all across Pennsylvania there are early morning
festivals to watch the groundhogs emerge from their burrows. Punxsutawney holds the
biggest Groundhog Day celebration in America, where over 20,000 people attend each

5. In some areas there are German-Pennsylvanian Groundhog Lodges that hold big
parties with traditional German food and skits. Pennsylvanian-German dialect is the
only language allowed - if you speak in English you have to pay a small fine as

4. The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil, who has apparently been making
predictions in Punxsutawney for over 125 years. Residents say that Phil is given a
magical potion every year to give him long life.  

3. The chosen groundhogs are kept in electric-heated burrows, and are said to utter
their prediction in ‘groundhogese’ which is then ‘translated’ by a representative.  

2. The groundhogs are looked after by the Inner Circle, which is a group of local
dignitaries who are responsible for carrying out all of the Groundhog Day
celebrations. They traditionally wear formal dress, including top hats, on Groundhog

1. The accuracy of the groundhog predictions is a matter of dispute – some
Pennsylvania residents say that the rodents are accurate up to 90% of the time,
whereas some studies say they are accurate only 35% of the time.