Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day in USA in 2021
Punxsutawney Phil at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania Image by Anthony Quintano , via Flickr

About Groundhog Day

How long until Groundhog Day?
This holiday next takes place in 98 days.
Dates of Groundhog Day
2022 USA Wednesday, February 2ndGroundhog Day
2021 USA Tuesday, February 2ndGroundhog Day
2020 USA Sunday, February 2ndGroundhog Day
2019 USA Saturday, February 2ndGroundhog Day
February 2nd each year brings the most-watched weather forecast of the year—and the only one led by a rodent.

February 2nd each year brings the most-watched weather forecast of the year—and the only one led by a rodent. Legend has it that on this morning if a groundhog can see its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it cannot see its shadow, spring is on the way.

Why the Groundhog?

Since a groundhog (or woodchuck or "whistle pig") hibernates for the winter, its coming out of the ground is a natural sign of spring. In Europe centuries ago, people watched for other hibernating animals, including badgers, bears, and hedgehogs, as signs of winter's end. Germans who immigrated to Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s began keeping an eye on the groundhog. The widespread population of the rodent made it a handy agent for this particular weather superstition.

And a superstition it is. But there's a grain of truth: the winter days when you can see your shadow clearly are often especially cold because there are no clouds overhead to insulate the earth.

Why February?

Early February is midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Throughout history, numerous holidays have marked this seasonal crossroads. Among these is Candlemas Day, 2 February, a Christian holiday that celebrates Mary's ritual purification. Early Christians believed that if the sun came out on Candlemas Day, winter would last for six weeks more.

The ancient Romans observed a mid-season festival on 5 February, and the pagan Irish celebrated one around 1 February. In many parts of Europe, early February might herald the start of spring when crops could be planted.

Punxsutawney Phil and Friends

In the 1880s some friends in Punxsutawney, Penn., went into the woods on Candlemas Day to look for groundhogs. This outing became a tradition, and a local newspaper editor nicknamed the seekers "the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." Starting in 1887 the search became an official event centered on a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil. A ceremony still takes place every year.

Today Punxsutawney Phil lives in a climate-controlled habitat adjoining the Punxsutawney Library. A local celebrity, he gained national fame in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day (which was shot in scenic Woodstock, Illinois). The weather-watching rodent's predictions are recorded in the Congressional Records of our National Archive. So far, Phil has seen his shadow about 85% of the time. Canada's Groundhog Day relies on the predictions of an albino groundhog named Wiarton Willie. Although Punxsutawney Phil gets the most attention, various American cities have their own special groundhogs - New York City's official groundhog is called "Pothole Pete."

Find out more

Related Observances

St Swithins Day

What's more sensible as a weather forecast? The bones of a 1,200 year old saint or a groundhog?

Read More

Similar Observances

Halloween 🎃

Ireland is believed to be the birthplace of the Halloween festival.

Read More

National Tooth Fairy Day

Because anyone who can make a money magically appear under your pillow deserves a special day!

Read More

April Fools Day

Find out the dates, history and traditions of April Fools Day

Read More

National Mother Goose Day

Find out the dates, history and traditions of National Mother Goose Day

Read More
Explore more Folk holidays

Other Observances on February 2nd 2021

Safer Internet Day

The internet puts the knowledge of the whole planet in our hands, but we need to keep ourselves safe.

Read More

World Wetlands Day

A day to raise awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.

Read More

Inventors' Day

Thailand marks Inventors' Day on the date when King Bhumibol was allocated a patent in 1993.

Read More

National Heavenly Hash Day

In the pantheon of elite brownies, Heavenly Hash is up there with its close relative, Rocky Road.

Read More
All events on February 2nd 2021