In the Middle Ages on the European continent, villagers marked Candlemas Day, which is half-way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The weather conditions on that day were believed to be a predictor of how much longer winter would last. The observance came to North America with German settlers in the mid-19th century. Some historians suggest that our current style of celebration took hold around 1887, and has both European and Native American origins. While the Germans who moved to the Pennsylvania region may have associated the seasonal transition with a hedgehog back home, the Delaware tribes already living there included groundhogs as spiritual guides who could lend wisdom to their own knowledge about seasonal changes. Groundhogs emerge from their 3- to 6-month hibernation when it is still cold, and which is earlier than some other winter-sleepers, so their timing for predicting seasonal changes is dependable.
A traditional German poem tells us:
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.
Will our furry Phil see his shadow this year? Will we be in for 6 more weeks of winter? We’ll find out on February 2nd.
There’s a lot more to know about Groundhog Day! Try your hand at the following trivia quiz, then impress your friends on your next ZOOM call. (Answers are below.)
1.The only two countries who celebrate Groundhog Day are ______________ and ______________.
- An ancient holiday known as ______________ evolved into _____________, which then became Groundhog Day.
- The ____________ were the first to use small animals as a prediction tool for the spring forecast and favored the ___________ as their forecaster.
- Groundhogs are also called ________________.
- The elite group who manage Punxsutawney Phil and his annual celebration are called the _______________, which is part of the larger group known as the _______________.
- Other famous groundhog forecasters besides Phil include __________________ and ____________________.
- The movie Groundhog Day starred actor _________________ and was released in _____________.
- In 2010 animal rights activists from PETA suggested replacing the live groundhog with a _________________ one.
- During the Punxsutawney ceremony members of the inner circle speak________________ and wear _____________________.
- In ancient traditions, Medieval cults designated the ________________ and the English designated the ____________ as the annual weather forecasting animal.
Multiple Choice Questions:
- In what year did the first official Groundhog Day celebration take place?
a) 1952 b) 1887 c) 1776 d) 1981
- The man who started the annual Punxsutawney traditions on Groundhog Day worked in what profession?
a) Journalism b) Outdoorsman gear sales c) Banking d) Teaching
- What is the approximate population of Punxsutawney, PA where famed forecaster Punxsutawney Phil lives?
a) 1,500 b)10,000 c) 6,000 d) 3,400
- According to legend, Punxsutawney Phil is how old thanks to the magic potion he drinks each year?
a) 131 b) 1,002 c) 85 d) 448
- Which legendary talk show host featured Punxsutawney Phil as a guest in 1995?
a) Ricki Lake b) Phil Donahue c) Oprah Winfrey d) Geraldo Rivera
- What is the highest number of visitors to Gobbler’s Knob to celebrate Groundhog Day?
a) 55,000 b) 10,000 c) 100,000 d) 35,000
- The Punxsutawney celebration lasts how long?
a) One week b) Three days c) One day d) Three weeks
- Residents of Vermillion, Ohio use this creature to predict the spring forecast rather than a groundhog?
a) Spider b) Mouse c) Beaver d) Caterpillar
- Groundhogs make a unique sound called what?
a) A whistle b) A scream c) A grunt d) A whisper
- Most groundhogs live where?
a) Alaska b) Eastern U.S. c) South America d) Eastern Canada
True or False Questions:
- In the movie Groundhog Day, the celebration was filmed in Punxsutawney, PA.
- Staten Island Chuck is a more accurate forecaster than Punxsutawney Phil.
- Groundhogs can live up to ten years in captivity.
- If the groundhog sees his shadow on this day, it means an early spring.
- The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club was a group of groundhog preservationists hoping to spread awareness to keep the groundhog from going extinct.
- Before having his name changed to Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog was called Br’er Groundhog.
- Punxsutawney Phil has a wife named Phyllis.
- The most famous Canadian groundhog is Ontario Olly.
- Groundhogs are one of the few animals who truly hibernate.
- Punxsutawney Phil’s full name is Punxsutawney Phillip.
Groundhog Day Trivia Answers
- Canada, United States
- Ibolc, Candlemas
- Germans, Hedgehog
- Inner Circle, Punxsutawney Groundhog Club
- Any of these: Shubenacadie Sam, Staten Island Chuck, General Beauregard Lee, Wiarton Willie, Dunkirk Dave, Pierre C. Shadeaux, Grover the Groundhog
- Bill Murray, 1993
- Groundhogese (or Pennsylvania Dutch), Top Hats
- Bear, Badger
Multiple Choice Answers:
- b) It took place on February 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
- a) Clymer Freas, who developed the idea, was a newspaper editor.
- c) As of 2018 the population is 5,813.
- a) He was born in 1887.
- c) The episode aired on Groundhog Day 1995.
- d) While crowds typically number in the low tens of thousands, after the movie Groundhog Day came out there were as many as 35,000 visitors in one year.
- b) The last day of the celebration is the prediction day.
- d) If the wooly bear caterpillar has more orange than black coloring in autumn, the upcoming winter will be mild.
- a) They whistle at potential mates or when scared.
- b) Most live in the Eastern and Central U.S. while some are found in Canada and Alaska.
True or False Answers:
- False. It was filmed in Woodstock, Illinois.
2. True. Chuck’s success rate is about 70% while Phil’s is only 40%.
3. True. In the wild they only live about six years.
4. False. If he sees his shadow, he gets scared because there will be 6 more weeks of winter.
5. False. They were a group of groundhog hunters.
6. True. The name Phil was chosen in honor of King Philip.
7. True. Although spectators don’t get to see her, Phyllis lives with Phil.
8. False. His name is Wiarton Willie from Wiarton, Ontario.
9. True. They enter this coma-like state in the wild, but many famous groundhogs are kept in conditions that prevent them from hibernating through the Groundhog Day celebrations.
10. False. His full name is Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognostica- tor of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.
Quiz source: I Love to Know offers a free, printable version of this quiz at their website.