GROUND HOG DAY - WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 2
The Pennsylvania Dutch were immigrants from Germanic-speaking areas of Europe. The Germans had a tradition of marking Candlemas (February 2) as "Badger Day" (Dachstag), where if a badger emerging found it to be a sunny day thereby casting a shadow, it foreboded the prolonging of winter by four more weeks.
Candlemas is a primarily Catholic festival but also known in the German Protestant (Lutheran) churches. In folk religion, various traditions and superstitions continue to be linked with the holiday, although this was discouraged by the Protestant Reformers in the 16th century. Notably, several traditions akin to weather lores use Candlemas' weather to predict the start of spring.
The weather-predicting animal on Candlemas usually was the badger, although regionally the animal was the bear or the fox. The original weather-predicting animal in Germany had been the bear, another hibernating mammal, but when they grew scarce the lore became altered.
Similarity to the groundhog lore has been noted for the German formula "Sonnt sich der Dachs in der Lichtmeßwoche, so geht er auf vier Wochen wieder zu Loche" (If the badger sunbathes during Candlemas-week, for four more weeks he will be back in his hole).[a] A slight variant is found in a collection of weather lore (bauernregeln, lit. "farmers' rules") printed in Austria in 1823.
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