On February 2nd, Groundhog’s Day is celebrated in the U.S. and Canada. The Groundhog’s Day holiday is centered around the legend that if a groundhog emerges from the hole where he lives on this day and sees his shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter. If the groundhog does not see his shadow, then there will be an early spring!
The origins of when and why groundhogs first became “weathermen” is not entirely clear, although it’s believed to have evolved from European folklore about other hibernating animals (like badgers and bears) who would emerge from their sleep on February 2nd and “predict” the weather based on their behavior. (Seeing their shadow or not.) Most likely, German immigrants brought these ideas to North America, and the groundhog was picked because it was such a common animal in areas like Pennsylvania where these immigrants were settling.
Today we know that the groundhog’s forecast is mostly just folklore practiced for fun and not anything based on fact. Like many other weather-related myths, people needed things to look to before they knew the real science behind the weather, and how to predict it!