Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Mom's Guide To... Groundhog Day

Find more information on groundhogs on the National Geographic website.

It's time to turn our attention to Gobbler's Knob! It's almost Groundhog Day!

I just love this little holiday and all the sweet tradition behind it. The celebration of the day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. (Coincidentally, my ancestors are among those early German settlers.) The settlers brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day: "For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May." The settlers realized that groundhogs were plentiful in their new land and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.

Using animals to predict the weather is not unusual, so I am not surprised that our ancestors used this practice to carry on the Candlemas tradition. I know I've seen a furry caterpiller in the fall, or watched squirrels go crazy in the yard and think a bad storm or bad winter was coming. Or think of Charles Ingalls, Laura Ingalls Wilder's dad, who looks at the thick walls of the muskrat's house and predicts "The Long Winter."

Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his hole on Feb. 2, and give us the same clues to the coming weeks. According to legend, if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, we will have an early spring.

The town of Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800s, with the first official trek to Gobbler's Knob in 1887. Phil was named after King Phillip.

There are many ways to celebrate the day with little ones. You can prepare them for the holiday by talking about shadows. Take them outside and let them make shadows on the driveway, or made shadow puppets with your hands on the walls. Let them play with flashlights and make their own shadows.

I love this little headband that kids can color to wear on Groundhog Day:

Source: via Kellie on Pinterest

Here are a few more great links with groundhog fun:

  • This link has a great printable with a groundhog song that kids can color.
  • The official site, has a lesson plan with coloring pages, a crossword puzzle and a recipe for groundhog cookies, and much more.
  • This is a great post on Toddler Approved featuring one family's Groundhog Day activities, with many great ideas for little ones.
  • Enchanted Learning usually has great printables, including some for Groundhog Day.
  • The Fisher-Price website has really cute groundhog coloring pages.

Or how about this snack?

Pinterest has numerous groundhog cookies, cupcakes and cakes which can be easily recreated. Make a themed treat for breakfast after the groundhog emerges from his burrow!

Older kids might enjoy this cute little drawing lesson:

Source: via Kellie on Pinterest

Older kids might also enjoy the movie "Groundhog Day." It's OK, although there is one scene where Bill Murray tries to seduce a woman that might be questionable. The good thing about the movie is how it shows the crazy hoopla in the small town every February.

(Edited to add: "Groundhog Day" will air all day long on the American Movie Classics channel on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.)

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