A very long time ago, ancient people called the Celts lived in Germany and they wanted to know what the weather would be like for the rest of the winter. They wanted to know if spring would come earlier or if it would be a longer winter. They needed to know this because they had to plant their crops, which is how they made money and were able to eat. These people thought that hedgehogs were very smart animals and would be able to tell whether or not spring would come early or not.
About midway through the winter (around the beginning of February), the Celts would wake up the hedgehog. On that day, if it was cloudy out then the hedgehog would not see its shadow and winter would end soon. If it was a sunny day, then the hedgehog would see its shadow and spring would come a little later.
In the 1700s, many people from Germany came to America and went to live in Pennsylvania. Even in America, they wanted to know if winter would end early or not. They couldn’t find too many hedgehogs in Pennsylvania, but there were many cousins to the hedgehogs called groundhogs.
In the year 1886 in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania the first Groundhog Day was celebrated at Gobblers Knob with the famous Punxsutawney Phil waking up from his slumber to see his shadow or not. Every February 2, Phil tells all his friends and now the whole world whether or not winter would be longer or if we will have an early spring. That is the story of Groundhog Day!
For more information go to groundhog.org
Adults - check out the detailed history of Groundhog Day here!
Groundhog Day Poem by Kathleen M. Hollenbeck
Sleepy little groundhog,
we have long been told,
you will leave your cozy den
to come out in the cold.
If you see your shadow,
wintertime will stay.
If the sky is cloudy, though,
then spring is on the way!