On the frigid morning of February, 2, 2019, Americans from coast to coast celebrated Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring when the meteorologically-inclined rodent proved unable to see his shadow. While the American holiday of Groundhog Day may seem eternally rooted in tradition and folklore, other cultures and eras have developed other quirky customs for foretelling future weather patterns. In this edition of The StickerTalk, join us on an intercultural journey to revisit past predecessors of Groundhog Day and explore coexisting equivalents of this American staple.
- In a “bear”-ly believable twist on Groundhog Day, several nations in Eastern Europe replace the relatively small groundhog with a wild bear! Local folklore, much like the American tradition, states that a lengthy winter is imminent if the bear sees its shadow upon emerging from hibernation.
- Although Punxsutawney Phil most commonly claims the limelight, other groundhogs across the country simultaneously try their hands, er… paws, at weather forecasting on February 2. Perhaps the most learned of these furry forecasters is Georgia’s own General Beauregard Lee, a groundhog boasting honorary doctorates from both the University of Georgia and Georgia University. Other groundhogs renowned for their weather prediction prowess include Staten Island Chuck and Jimmy the Groundhog, both better know for their tendency to munch on their handlers than for their uncanny accuracy.
- Due to a shortage of groundhogs on the American frontier, some pioneers relied on the humble hedgehog to predict the arrival of spring. However, these settlers were not the first to utilize the hedgehog’s forecasting skills. Farmers in England could reportedly divine wind patterns by the way hedgehogs built their nests, enabling them to more effectively nurture and protect their crops.