Marmota monax
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Here in Vermont they do not celebrate “Groundhog” Day, rather we celebrate Woodchuck Day or at least so I am told. Are they one in the same? Yes. Why the different name? Come on, we try to be different here.

The history of Woodchuck Day or Groundhog Day surrounds the Christian holiday of Candlemas.  Candlemas is the Christian festival of lights, marking the day halfway between the shortest day of the year and the spring equinox. It is the day in the Catholic church that the candles used for the rest of the year are blessed. Jewish tradition was that a woman who gave birth was secluded for 40 days. It is also known as the purification of Mary or the Presentation of Jesus to the Temple  – since traditionally both of these events take place 40 days after a woman gives birth.

Weather lore has it that German tradition indicated that if a burrowing animal saw its shadow on Candlemas Day, there would be six more weeks of winter. Here in Vermont I think that they must shine spotlights on the poor old woodchuck so he has no alternative but to see his shadow, since no one here is ready to give up the snow and winter…just yet.

There are a slew of sayings surrounding the association between the weather and Candlemas. According to the Stormfax website some of the sayings are:

According to the old English saying:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

From Scotland:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be two winters in the year.

From Germany:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.

And from America:

If the sun shines on Groundhog Day;
Half the fuel and half the hay.

The sun is shining here in Vermont this morning – and I am guessing there are a lot of happy people out there right about now.

The groundhog or woodchuck that resides in Nova Scotia has seen its shadow so it’s safe to say that winter is here to stay… for a while at least.

The famous Punxsutawny Phil confirmed that winter is here for a while longer.

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