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Feb. 2 is a big day for Nova Scotia’s most famous rodent, Shubenacadie Sam. That’s right, it’s Groundhog Day!
Festivities at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park in Nova Scotia begin at 7 a.m., with Sam’s big prediction set for 8 a.m. Will we be graced with an early spring, or stuck with a long winter? Well, that all depends on whether Sam sees his shadow.
So, where does this peculiar tradition come from? Believe it or not, it dates all the way back to the 17th century.
Throughout history, Feb. 2 has been a significant day for many, including the Celts who celebrated Imbolc, a festival marking the beginning of spring. With the spread of Christianity, Imbolc developed into Candlemas, and some Europeans believed that a sunny Candlemas meant another 40 days of winter.
It was the Germans who introduced animals to the legend, stating that if badgers and other small animals saw their shadows and retreated, winter would linger. When German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th century, the groundhog became the official representative of the celebration.
In 1887, a local newspaper editor developed the first official Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, home of the very famous Punxsutawney Phil. There may be a bit of a rivalry between Phil and Sam, whose predictions didn’t align last year. Sam predicted a long winter for us here in Nova Scotia, while Phil promised Punxsutawney an early spring. Will they see eye to eye this year? Tune in on Sunday morning to find out!
According to a Canadian study examining the past 30 years, groundhogs are only accurate about 37 per cent of the time, but that doesn’t take away from the excitement of the big day and their adorable little faces coming out of their burrows. Want to catch a glimpse of Sam getting ready for his big moment? Check out the Sam Cam at novascotiawebcams.com
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Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network