Groundhog Day has been around for over 30 years, but the tradition itself started in Gobbler's Knob, Punxsutawney in 1886. That year, the local newspaper declared Phil the official weather-forecasting groundhog.
Groundhog Day came from the Roman tradition, Candlemas Day. Originally it was a Pagan holiday. If the sun came out while the clergy blessed the candles, an animal would be able to cast a shadow. This shadow was what predicted six more weeks of winter or an early spring.
German immigrants took this idea and used a hedgehog for their weather prediction. When they arrived in Pennsylvania, they used a groundhog instead.
Groundhogs can be found from Idaho in the Northwest to Georgia in the Southeast. According to Vicky Runnoe, Conservation Education Supervisor of the MK Nature Center in Boise, groundhogs are present in the Rocky Mountains of east-central Idaho, close by the Snake River or on the interstate toward Twin Falls. They tend to live in places where they can dig burrows easily. Some people see them as garden pests, as they eat anything that looks like a plant.
In 1993 the hit movie 'Groundhog Day' starring Bill Murray caused an expansion of the event all over the country. In Boise we have our own stuffed groundhog meteorologist at Zoo Boise called Boise Bill.
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