21 Aug 2014
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Celebrate Groundhog Day Locally

Program at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park will include a visit to the home of the Walney garden groundhog.

Celebrate Groundhog Day Locally

Groundhog Day is on Saturday, Feb. 2 this year, and the soon-to-return Arctic temperatures are giving the day a bit more resonance than usual.

According to the myth, if a groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; if he does not, spring is right around the corner.

On Saturday, people can learn about the largest member of the squirrel family and meet the larger-than-life Walney groundhog at  Ellanor C. Lawrence Park.

During this one-hour program starting at 1:30 p.m., participants will learn the story behind Groundhog Day and some interesting facts about this hibernating animal. A visit to the home of the Walney garden groundhog will be followed by groundhog games.

Participants must be at least three years old. Adults must register with their children. The cost is $5 per person. Registration is available at  Parktakes Online. For more information, call 703-631-0013.

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is located at 5040 Walney Road in Chantilly, Va. More information about the park is available  online.

Last year, Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter while Staten Island Chuck called for an early spring.

Groundhog Day and other similar legends are based on the beliefs of Europeans, but the true origins of the holiday are lost in time. The day originated from the Germans, Scots and early Christian Europeans.

It is celebrated every year on Feb. 2. On this day, a groundhog comes out of its burrow and checks for his shadow to determine how soon spring will arrive.

Groundhog Day as we know it in the United States started because the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers wanted to know if spring was coming early or not. That information helped them decide when they should plant seeds and half their hay.

Europeans used hedgehogs as the animal that determined the season change but Pennsylvania Dutch farmers chose the groundhog because they were found in greater numbers in North America. Groundhog Day stemmed from the ancient traditions of Candlemas, a holiday that originated in early Christian Europe that was celebrated by the Germans.

In central Pennsylvania, the people of Punxsutawney hold celebrations as they wait for Punxsutawney Phil, the native groundhog resident of the town, to come out of his burrow and check for his shadow.

Tell Us: Do you think spring will come early this year? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

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