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The Sound of Science - 'Groundhog Day'

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NIU STEAM

The Sound of Science crew shed some light on the origins of the groundhog's shadow.

Jasmine: Hi, I'm Jasmine.

Chrissy: And I'm Chrissy.

Jasmine: We're from NIU STEAM and...

Chrissy: This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ. Every February we use the Groundhog to predict what the tail-end of Winter may look
like - will it be short and mild, or will it continue to linger on forcing us to wear our coats and mittens into April? The convention is that if the groundhog sees its shadow, we can expect to see winter last another 6 weeks. If the groundhog does not see its shadow, then we can expect Spring-like conditions before the middle of March.

Jasmine: Where did this custom first come from? In ancient European and Celtic traditions, February 2nd marked the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox and was celebrated as the holiday of Candlemas. This holiday had religious
significance, but the weather on that day was thought to foretell the length of winter: "If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another fight. If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, winter won't come again."

Chrissy: In the 18th and 19th centuries, when German immigrants arrived in what is now Pennsylvania, they not only brought with them the customs of Candlemas, but also using hedgehogs as small weather predicting mammals. Hedgehogs were not present in the area, so Groundhogs were substituted.

Jasmine: A town in Pennsylvania called Punxsutawney throws one of the most festive Groundhog Day celebrations in the states. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has been organizing events since the late 19th century and has seen attendance at these events increase since the movie "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray was first shown in 1993.

Chrissy: You've been listening to the Sound of Science on WNI, where you learn something new everyday.

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