Alpine marmots in Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria
© Michaela Walch/Alam
Spring is coming. Alpine marmots in National Park Hohe Tauern, Austria
February 2, was observed as Groundhog Day in many parts of the US and Canada, marking an annual tradition in which a groundhog is believed to predict whether winter would be prolonged, or spring would arrive early. THE MOST famous of these prognostication ceremonies is held in Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania and is attended by thousands of people.
If it is sunny on February 2, and a groundhog (a rodent native to North America) emerges from its burrow and sees its own shadow, another six weeks of winter weather follows, goes the tradition. On the other hand, if the animal doesn’t see its shadow, milder weather is forecast for the following weeks, indicating an early onset of spring. In Southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges celebrate the holiday with social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more plays or skits are performed for entertainment.