The roots of this light-hearted tradition span both oceans and centuries.
Chris Scott, chief meteorologist at the Weather Network, said Groundhog Day hearkens back to medieval Europe and the Christian festival of Candlemas.
Participants would light candles to brighten a dreary time and watch weather conditions on festival day for portents of what lay ahead, he said.
One Scottish couplet succinctly summed up the superstitions of the time: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, There'll be two winters in the year."
The old proverb had a basis in fact, Scott said, since European weather patterns were markedly different from the ones prevailing in North America today.
"You can get winters that essentially end in early February," Scott said in a telephone interview. "There was more of a realistic scenario of, 'Oh, what's it going to be? Are we going to see winter persisting for six more weeks or is this actually the end?"'
Scott said early Europeans eventually threw a prognosticating hedgehog into the mix, adding the animals had hibernation patterns that naturally brought them out of hiding around the time of Candlemas.
When German settlers began immigrating to the U.S. in the 19th century, they adapted Candlemas traditions to their new home with one simple innovation -- letting the area's native groundhogs do the forecasting.
Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/roots-of-groundhog-day-go-back-to-medieval-europe-1.2215627#ixzz3Qbm5jtnM
Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.