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The Origins of Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day tradition states that if on February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil emerges to see his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter, but if he doesn’t see his shadow, we will have an early spring.[1] Unfortunately, this year, according to Punxsutawney Phil, we have six more weeks of winter.[2] But have you ever wondered where the tradition of Groundhog Day started?

Clymer Freas, a German immigrant living in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, pitched the idea based on German traditions to a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters known as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. [3]

Groundhog Day’s roots can be traced back to pre-Christian traditions in Europe. Known by the Celts as “Imbolc,” February 2nd is one of eight holidays celebrating the annual seasonal cycles, collectively known as the Wheel of the Year. [4] Imbolc marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox and is a celebration of the coming spring.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the holidays that were celebrated shifted. Imbolc changed into Candlemas, a feast celebrating the presentation of Jesus at the holy temple in Jerusalem. Some Christians believed that a sunny Candlemas meant another 40 days of cold and snow. This belief shifted further in Germany, where many believed that if small animals glimpsed their shadow on Candlemas, there would be another 40 days of cold and snow. This tradition traveled with immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, but it was Clymer Freas who led this tradition to become a tradition throughout the United States. [5]

On February 2, 1887, Clymer Freas and the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club went to a site known as Gobbler’s Knob, where they went to see if the groundhog they had picked would see its shadow.[6] Today, thousands of people travel to Punxsutawney, Philadelphia, each year to observe this Groundhog Day tradition.

Groundhog’s Day is just one of many holidays brought to the U.S. by immigrants. Here at Visa Business Plans, we recognize the remarkable and ongoing contributions immigrants make to the United States. We are honored to help immigrants start businesses while creating better lives for their families and enriching the culture in America.

If you are thinking about starting a business in the U.S., growing your existing operation, or applying for a loan, we can help! Call us today to learn more.

Visa Business Plans is led by Marco Scanu, a certified coach from the University of Miami with a globally based practice coaching Fortune 1000 company executives, entrepreneurs, as well as professionals in 4 different continents. Mr. Scanu advises clients on turnaround strategies and crisis management.

Mr. Scanu received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from The University of Florida and an MBA in Management from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Mr. Scanu was also a Visiting Scholar at Michigan State University under the prestigious H. Humphrey Fellowship (Fulbright program) with a focus on Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, and high-growth enterprises.

At present, Mr. Scanu is the managing partner and CEO at Visa Business Plans, a Miami-based boutique consulting firm providing attorneys and investors with business planning services in the areas of U.S. and Canadian immigration, SBA loans, and others.

[1] https://www.euronews.com/culture/2022/02/02/groundhog-day-the-european-origins-of-the-bizarre-us-tradition

[2] https://www.wtae.com/article/punxsutawney-phil-groundhog-day-2023-prediction/42742537

[3] https://www.history.com/news/groundhog-day-history-and-facts

[4] https://www.history.co.uk/articles/the-wheel-of-the-year-the-calendar-of-pagan-festivals-explained

[5] https://www.history.com/news/groundhog-day-history-and-facts

[6] https://www.history.com/news/groundhog-day-history-and-facts