Groundhog Day 2023: A Brief History and this Year’s Results 


Claire Arneson, Editor

Well, it is finally February people. The first month of the year is over, and the  season of love is fast approaching. But there is a holiday we tend to skip over this month. A holiday, that can hold the fate of the season in its delicate paws. I am, of course, talking about Groundhog Day. And no, not the Bill Murray movie where he repeats the same day over and over again. I am talking about the day that, let us be honest, most of us forget, but a day nonetheless that is important to us, Midwesterners. Although I would not consider myself a very superstitious person, when it comes to this groundhog, I hold my breath waiting to see the results. So before I go telling what the result of this year’s shadow-seeking day is, how about a little history lesson first?   


To begin my research into this furry holiday, I turned to a source we are most familiar with on campus. If you have not used the Chester Fritz Library search tool, research guides, or databases, this is your sign that you can find nearly all the answers you seek there. After a quick search of, “The history of Groundhog Day,” I quickly found an article answering my question. “The History of Groundhog Day,” by Blair Ransford over at Scholastic publications written in 2019, similarly had the same question I find myself asking today.   


Groundhog Day first started over yonder in Europe, on the same day, February 2nd. According to Ransford, people gathered around holes hundreds of years ago on a day called Candlemas. They believed on this singular day, that all the badgers, hedgehogs, and other rodents emerged from hibernation. Based on the position of the sun, if the animal saw a shadow, there would be 6 more weeks of winter. If not, spring was on its way, which does not make sense to me because if the sun is out does that not mean the snow will melt? As people sailed across the ocean to Pennsylvania, they were still looking forward to celebrating their holiday. However, there were no hedgehogs or badgers when they came to America. But there were groundhogs, so they decided to name the new holiday in this new place, Groundhog Day.   


Now, what I am sure you have all been waiting for. What did Punxsutawney Phil – the name of the groundhog – see or not see on the morning of Thursday, February 2nd? Bad news my fellow North Dakotans, looks like we have 6 more weeks of winter. According to the New York Post, it was a sunny day in Pennsylvania, which caused the rodent to see his shadow. Not that our lovely midwestern weather would abide by the wishes of the groundhog, but one can dream. I guess we will all have to see what the next 6 weeks hold. Will we have more cold and snow days, or is spring on its way? Should we believe a groundhog? These are qestions that hopefully will be answered in the weeks to come.   


 Claire Arneson is a Dakota Student Section Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].



 Rainsford. (2019). The History of Groundhog Day. Scholastic News (Ranger Ed.), 75(5), SSS1–.