Home Celebrating German Culture in America Groundhog Day, A German Tradition? Yes, it is!
Groundhog Day, A German Tradition? Yes, it is!

Groundhog Day, A German Tradition? Yes, it is!



groundhog day germanyGroundhog Day, a GERMAN Tradition? Turns out that weather prediction using a burrowing animal on the 2nd of February  has it’s roots in Germany. The German immigrants who landed in America, and brought their tradition with them. Of course… a few adjustments had to be made… in America, there are no Hedgehogs (Igel), so a Groundhog was substituted. (And Bill Murray didn’t play into it….)

Groundhog Day Germany

Using animals to predict the weather…

“Wenn der Igel Lichtmess seinen Schatten sieht,
so Kriecht er wieder auf sechs Wochen ins Loch.”

“If the hedgehog sees his shadow at Candlemas,
He will crawl back into his hole for another six weeks.”

In the Catholic Church, February 2nd it is the celebration of Candlemas, the day that Mary presented her son, Jesus in the Temple. It is a time of light in winter, it sometimes coincides with the beginning of Lent. And for everyone who is tired of the cold and snow, it is a time to wonder how much longer winter will last. No wonder people started to look for ways to predict the coming of spring!

Groundhog Day A German Tradition?

What do you do when you can’t find a Hedgehog?

groundhog day a german traditionIn the 1840′s German farmers settled in Pennsylvania, USA. They brought German Traditions with them, including, weather prediction. Every February 2nd, Maria Lichtmess, they would consult with a Hedgehog, or Igel, to see whether winter would drag on, or end soon.

Problem is, there is a serious shortage of Hedgehogs in Pennsylvania.

They substituted a Woodchuck.. aka. a Groundhog… and a new tradition was born.



 So… How did German Farmers know if Winter will continue?

German Farmers would use these Bauernregel…..

Bauernregel 1

Farmer Saying/ Rural Expression

Ist’s zu Lichtmess mild und rein
wirds ein langer Winter sein.

If Candlemas is mild and pure,
Winter will be long for sure.

 groundhog day germany

Bauernregeln 2

Rural Saying/ Farmer Expression 2

Wenn’s an Lichtmess
stürmt und schneit,
ist der Frühling nicht mehr weit;
ist es aber klar und hell,
kommt der Lenz wohl nicht so schnell.

If Candlemas brings
wind and snow,
Then spring will very soon show.
But if it’s clear and bright,
Then spring won’t come so right.

The Weather Prediction Method Changed just a Bit…

groundhog day a german tradition
The town of Punxsutawney, PA is now the center of all Groundhog Day activity.

Punxsutwaney, Pennsylvania comes alive on February 2nd when the whole town… and a few thousand others… gather to see Phil the Groundhog predict the weather. That’s a Lot of Hoopla for a Groundhog.

According to legend, if the Groundhog Phil sees his shadow, we are in for six more weeks of Winter.

If not, we are in for an early spring.

 Unlike the Early Settlers, You Can Have a Hedgehog to Predict the Weather…

Want your own weather predicting hedgehog? These little guys are as cute as can be… their spines are soft… and they need no feeding. You can keep them on your desk (to keep you company).. or under your pillow (to keep you safe at night) or even in your car.

These little hedgehogs are sweet and soft and lovely. They may even predict weather.

Spunky HedgehogSpunky HedgehogHowie Hedgehog Mini Flopsie 8Howie Hedgehog Mini Flopsie 8Joggi Hedgehog Mottled BrownJoggi Hedgehog Mottled Brown


A Hedgehog for your Garden…to keep your Shoes Clean

Esschert Design Giant Hedge Hog Boot BrushEsschert Design Giant Hedge Hog Boot Brush

I have one of these Shoe Cleaning Hedgehogs next to my back door. Not only does he predict weather, he cleans my shoes! (And keeps the kids from tracking mud into the house…)

A hedgehog that cleans shoes? What’s not to like? It’s a pet that doesn’t need feeding!

And he can predict the weather as well as Phil.

If he’s wet… it’s raining
If he’s hot…. the sun is shining
If he’s white… I panic because it really doesn’t snow here!

(The funny thing is… often when new people come to my door, they think it’s real!!)



Gourmet Food

Groundhog Day, A German Tradition


  1. Okay, this is so interesting. I never knew that Groundhog Day originated in Germany, or that their version of the groundhog was the hedgehog. My daughter has had 2 pet hedgehogs and they are so sweet. They could not live outdoors as they’re very sensitive to cold. However, hers were African pygmy hedgehogs, which I assume are a different type than live in Germany. I do remember when I visited Bavaria in the ’90s, the woman I stayed with told me that hedgehogs in Germany are about as common as squirrels in the US. She did call them Igel. Very interesting!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *