Today is the Groundhog Day. A groundhog emerged from its burrow and saw his shadow. Which is great news for all men - another sex weeks of winter.
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This contest is fueled by the following news: Groundhog Day is traditionally a weather prediction day. If a groundhog wakes up, emerges from his hole and sees his shadow this means six more weeks of winter will follow. Seeing the groundhog shadow usually happens in the clear and cold weather, and the groundhog normally runs back to his hole after seeing his shadow being frightened by the cold weather. If however the weather is cloudy when the groundhog appears from his hole, this means warmer temperatures, and the end of winter is predicted with spring coming early.
The tradition of the weather forecast by groundhogs goes back to the fifth century when the European Celts thought that certain animals possessed special powers to accurately predict the weather for the coming weeks.
This happened on the days exactly in the middle between the Spring Equinox and the Winter Solstice. Tales from the ancient Germans support the idea that when bears and groundhogs emerged from their dens and holes too early they naturally got scared of their own shadows and went back to their winter hibernating places for the next six weeks. Scott folklore shows that groundhogs were thought to possess supernatural powers and even healing powers.
The earliest known mention of the Groundhog Day holiday in the United States is February 4, 1841 in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, when the local merchant James Morris wrote in his diary "if the groundhog comes out and sees his shadow he will go back for another six weeks, and there will be another six weeks of winter. However if the groundhog does not see his shadow due to the cloudy weather, the end of winter and an early spring will follow with warmer temperatures."
Groundhog Day is a traditional native festival in the USA and Canada and celebrated every year on the 2nd of February. It is treated that on this particular day one has to observe a marmot coming out from its burrow. Watching its behavior it can be judged about the earliest onset of the spring. According to the legend if the day is gloomy, the marmot won’t see its shadow and quietly leaves its hole – it means that winter will end shortly and the onset of spring is expected earlier. If the day is sunny, the marmot looks at its shadow and hides back in its hole – still 6 weeks of winter in there. In many cities and colonies of the USA and Canada on this particular day it is treated as a festival, initiated by the local marmot-meteorologists, which attracts many tourists.
History of the Origination of the festival:
In ancient Rome the 2nd of February is treated as the Day of hedgehogs. The meteorological prognosis of this day formed according to the behavior of an awaken hedgehog, which either saw it's shadow or not. People of Western Europe saved these traditions for a long time. In Northern Germany, out of the immigrants who lived in Pennsylvania, during this period aroused badgers. In northern America, where neither hedgehogs nor badgers lived, the meteorological role was transferred to the Groundhogs.
The 2nd of February for Christians is celebrated as The Purification of Mary as per the Gregorian’s calendar.
In the USA there is a famous Scottish proverb: If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.
There is a proverb among the German immigrants of Pennsylvania: Wann die Grundsau ihre Schadde sehnt, noch sex Woche Winder iss wass es meent (If the marmot shows its face, it means that six weeks of winter is left).
The Wild marmot (Marmota monax) inhabits the northern border of the forest in Canada up to the south Appalachians at the North-East of The USA. The winter sleeps in the northern parts of habitation localities extends longer than the South. During the movement from the south to the north the date of awakening from the hibernation is shifted to one day for every 12 km particularly in central Pennsylvania this day (2nd February) comes The Purification of Mary.
Some of the famous marmot-meteorologists:
In the USA and Canada seven marmots-meteorologists are mostly known: Punxsutawney Phil, Wiarton Willie, Staten Island Chuck, Shubenacadie Sam, Balzac Billy, Jimmy the Groundhog and General Beauregard Lee.
Groundhog population status:
The groundhog does under any group of protected animals. In a list from the International Red book, this animal has the status of LC (Least concern, type of minimum risk). The density of the local population strongly varies – from 0.1 individuals/Hectare (Quebec) to 3.3 individuals/Hectare (Ohio).
The anthropogenic development of land (ploughed up, forest clearing) to this type of animal is for its benefit only, as the area of land suitable for its habitation and food base increase (owing to the agricultural plantation). Probably at present the population of this type of animal is more than what there was before the European colonization of Northern America. Up to some extent, groundhogs harm gardens and field cultures, and also at high population – landscapes. At the same time by actively making loose soil and fertilizing the soil with their intestinal discharge, marmots aerate the soil, which improve water penetrability and high fertility. They are one of the common objects of sports hunting; however the high reproduction rate helps quickly restore the loss of population. The meat of groundhogs is eatable, and the fur is also used (limited). Young marmots get accustomed to captivity, however sexually matured individuals are aggressive.
Groundhogs are used as a biomedical model while studying obesity, malignant hepatoma, cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other diseases.