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 ...
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 ...
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