What Does Groundhog Day Mean To Us In The Copper Valley? ...Not Much!

NOT AN ALASKAN HOLIDAY Groundhog Day Is A Small-Town Pennsylvania Invention This National Event Made The Tricky Name "Punxsutawney"...


Groundhog Day Is A Small-Town Pennsylvania Invention

This National Event Made The Tricky Name "Punxsutawney" Far Easier To Remember 

February 2nd is "Groundhog Day." On this day, officials from a small Pennsylvania town hold a live groundhog high in the air. These "city fathers" are decked out in 19th century clothing, and they proclaim to the rest of the country whether the winter down there on the East Coast will last a while longer. Or not. 

Groundhog Day stems from an old German tradition where if a badger came out of the ground on that day and saw its shadow, there would be a month more of winter. 

The concept migrated – with German immigrants – to "Pennsylvania Dutch" country in the United States. ("Dutch" in this case doesn't mean Dutch, as in from Holland. It's derived from the German word, "Deutsch", which means "German.")

Perhaps thinking that they were less feisty and easier to pick up and hold in the air, the people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, swapped in a groundhog for the traditional badger. 

American badgers weigh 21 lbs. Groundhogs weigh only 13 lbs. 

As we know in Alaska, small towns all over America enjoy making up events that have a big impact and bring recognition to their home community. In our state, examples of these events include: The Iditarod, The Kuskokwim 300, the Copper Basin 300, the Nenana Ice Classic, the Mount Marathon Race, The Fur Rondy, The Running Of The Reindeer, the Iron Dog, Palmer Colony Days, Chickenstock, Golden Days, the Willow Winter Carnival, the Nome Great Bathtub Race, the Trapper Creek Cabin Fever Reliever... and many, many more. 

A town with a name as complicated and ridiculous to pronounce as "Punxsutawney" was obviously a great candidate for some kind of major event to put it in the public eye: "Groundhog Day." 

Coincidentally, the very first mention of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney occurred in 1886. That was only one year after Lt. Henry T. Allen and his fellow American soldiers came to the Copper Valley and marched their way upriver.

In Alaska, of course, we do not need a groundhog (or even a marmot or ermine) seeing its shadow to know that, yes, we will have 6 more weeks of winter, no matter what. 


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