Candlemas Day comes to America

Candlemas Day Comes to America

In 1723 the Delaware Indians created a campsite midway between the Allegheny and Susquehanna Rivers they called it "Punxsutawney" meaning "town of the sandflies" in Pennsylvania. The Delaware's believed they  emerged from Mother Earth as animals. They also believed the woodchuck or groundhog was their natural ancestral grandfather. This is how Punxsutawney got its name and how it became closely associated with the groundhog.

 It was also here that Germans came to settle bringing their celebration of  Candlemas Day with them to America.  However, though the tradition called for use of a hedgehog to predict the length of winter, they found no hedgehogs here. And so, the hedgehog was replaced with the woodchuck or groundhog and it was his shadow they watched for instead.

The first documentation of Candlemas Day celebrated in America came on February 4, 1841 and appears in the diary of a shopkeeper, James Morris, from Morgantown, Berks County Pennsylvania who wrote ...
"Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his  winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is moderate..."

Pennsylvania's official celebration of Groundhog Day began on February 2, 1886. It was proclaimed as such in the towns newspaper the "Punxsutawney Spirit" by its editor, Clymer Freas who wrote ...
"Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow."
The following year they added the legendary first trip to Gobblers Knob which is where Punxsutawney Phil still predicts to this DAY!


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