Celebrate Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is celebrated in the United States and Canada on February 2nd. Based on trying to guess when winter is going to end, the tradition holds that if the groundhog (Marmota monax) pops his head out but sees a shadow when emerging from its burrow, and pops back down, winter will go on for another six weeks. But, if it doesn't see its shadow, and the groundhog comes out of its burrow, then it's thought that winter will be over soon.[1]


  1. Study the origins of Groundhog Day. This is especially fun if done as a family, where you can sit down with the kids and do some research into the origins of the event. Can you find any particularly interesting or quirky Groundhog Days in the past? This Candlemas Day event has similarities to rituals performed a long time ago by the Celts (a festival called "Imbolc"), which later transformed in part to the German tradition of Candlemas. It is also said that the Romans celebrated a similar event which also held that if a hedgehog emerging from its hibernation in the moonlight could see its shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter.[2]
  2. Visit a town where Groundhog Day is celebrated, if you get the chance. Groundhog Day is a big deal in some towns, especially in the town of Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania, where groundhog Punxsutawney Phil is ritually taken up to Gobbler's Knob each year and is placed into an artificial burrow on a false tree stump.[1]
    • Punxsutawney makes it a weekend celebration, so if you have the time, go up a few days beforehand and join in the festivities. Visit the official Groundhog Day website for more information on the ongoing events.[3]
    • In Pennsylvania, Groundhog lodges hold early morning celebrations that involve food, games, speeches, and songs in the Pennsylvanian German dialect.
  3. Watch Punxsutawney Phil emerge from the burrow. This happens at daybreak, around 7:25AM,[4] so you'll need to be located in a good spot if you're in Punxsutawney, or up ready to watch it on TV Viewing and Shows. Many news stations will carry the event live on morning shows; if you're not sure, call or email your local station for information.
    • Watch to see whether or not he emerges from his burrow. Be prepared for a longer winter if he sees a shadow!
  4. Watch Bill Murray's 1993 Movies Groundhog Day. This movie is a beloved classic that features Bill Murray stuck in time again and again and again until he finally sorts out his life and gets things right with the people around him. It's fun and a great excuse to snuggle up with popcorn, family, and friends and have a good laugh together.
    • You could watch other relevant things too. For example, some shows have given homage to, the Groundhog Day movie experience, such as the third season conclusion to Cougar Town.[5] Or find a documentary on groundhogs!
  5. Consider holding a Groundhog Day Parties. It's always good to have an excuse to have a party, and this is a fun one. Since an early morning party is probably not much fun, consider taping Punxsutawney Phil's emergence for the party so that you can play it back for everyone. Prior to the party day, have everyone make small wagers on whether or not he'll see his shadow. Show the film and award those who Guess and Check correctly a small prize, such as a chocolate groundhog.
    • Draw or print groundhog pictures. Use them to decorate the party room. Make decorative groundhogs for labeling food on the table, and try to make a groundhog centerpiece.
    • Ask guests to come dressed as a groundhog. At least, as good a groundhog as they can be using paper bags, etc.!
    • Play pass the hog. Find a groundhog toy (or turn a stuffed toy into a groundhog as near as you can). Have one person play music with their back turned to everyone else so that they don't know who is holding the groundhog whenever they stop the music. Have the party guests stand or sit in a circle. Pass the groundhog around until the music stops. Whoever is holding the hog is out of the game. Play the music again until there is only one person left holding the groundhog, who is then the winner!
    • Lay paper on the floor and place a lamp in a strategic spot. Trace around people's shadows and have the kids color them in.
    • Play shadow tag or do shadow play against a wall. You could award prizes for the best shadow creatures made, or for the best shadow groundhog if you're really keen.
  6. Make Groundhog Day Cookies or other baked goods and food. Shaping food into a groundhog is fun for kids and kids-at-heart alike. Whether you're holding a party or just wanting to make some snacks, this is a great way to get into the Groundhog Day spirit.
    • Make a meatloaf in the shape of a groundhog.

    • Make some groundhog cupcakes.

  7. Make a chart to see what really happens to the weather from this day until you feel like it's really spring. Did the groundhog get it right?


  • If watching a groundhog poke his head out of his burrow even on TV is fun, a simple Lead Nature Walks will be amazing. Go out and enjoy nature. If you have Help Children Appreciate Nature, take them with you.
  • Did you know that groundhogs are also known as woodchucks or whistling pigs? The latter name is meant to convey their high pitched sounds they make to communicate.
  • You'll need to make travel reservations well in advance if you're going to Punxsutawney as it's a major annual event.
  • Ask your friends and family to get involved with this event.
  • Help you kids or siblings make groundhog masks. It is simple, silly, and fun.


  • Dress adequately if you're outdoors waiting to see Punxsutawney Phil. Keep near the bonfire if you're feeling especially chilly!
  • It's recommended that you don't subject small children to the Gobbler's Knob event as it is cold and crowded.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm clothing if attending an event
  • TV
  • Party gear and food

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Sources and Citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wisegeek, What is Groundhog Day?, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-groundhog-day.htm
  2. Chase's Calendar of Events 2011, "Hedgehog Day" entry, p. 113, (2011), ISBN 978-0-07-174026-5
  3. Groundhog Day: The official website of the Punxsutawney groundhog club", http://www.groundhog.org/
  4. Aubrey Vaughan, Celebrate Groundhog Day!, http://www.motherearthnews.com/Healthy-People-Healthy-Planet/Groundhog-Day-Punxsutawney-Phil.aspx
  5. http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/05/29/cougar-town-season-3-finale-walk-up/

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