Groundhog Day 2013 is just one day away, so why not get into the spirit of the annual holiday by sharing a bit of history and traditions, plus fun facts and activities with your kids? Go the extra mile by attending a 2013 Groundhog Day event in Atlanta. The biggest happens every year at Yellow River Game Ranch and stars Georgia's most famous groundhog, General Beau Lee.
The History of Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day in the US began in Pennsylvania during the 18th century. However, its origins date back to ancient Europe, where a badger or sacred bear was the weather prognosticator, as opposed to a groundhog.
Modern Groundhog Day is celebrated each year on Feb. 2nd. Tradition says that if a groundhog can see its shadow after emerging from its burrow, six more weeks of winter will ensue. However, if the groundhog does not see his shadow, an early spring is right around the corner. In 2012, General Beau Lee did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring. However, Punxsutawney Phil did and predicted six more weeks of winter.
Groundhog Day Traditions
Festivals are held across the country on the morning of Groundhog Day. The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., home of the country’s most popular groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. Large crowds of up to 40,000 people gather annually to see if Phil will see his shadow or not. Interestingly, The University of Dallas in Irving, Tx. has taken Groundhog Day as its official university holiday and organizes a large-scale celebration every year in honor of the groundhog.
Fun Facts about Groundhogs
Below are some fun facts about groundhogs from groundhog.org.
- Groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate. Hibernation is not just a deep sleep. It is actually a deep coma, where the body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing, the heart barely beats, the blood scarcely flows, and breathing nearly stops.
- The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. They are surprisingly quick and have exceptionally strong jaws.
- A groundhog's diet consists of lots of greens, fruits, and vegetables and very little water. Most of their liquids come from dewy leaves.
- A groundhog can whistle when it is alarmed. Groundhogs also whistle in the spring when they begin courting.
- Insects do not bother groundhogs and germs pretty much leave them alone. They are resistant to the plagues that periodically wipe out large numbers of wild animals.
- Young groundhogs are usually born in mid-April or May, and by July they are able to go out on their own. The size of the litter is 4 to 9. A baby groundhog is called a kit or a cub.
Groundhog Day Activities for Kids
- DLTK has Groundhog Day coloring pages and a fun groundhog toilet paper roll craft.
- Kabosse offers a Groundhog Day quiz, a word scramble and coloring pages.
- Enchanted Learning has crafts, worksheets and a printable book for Groundhog Day.
- Apples 4 the Teacher activities include free coloring pages, crafts, poems, rhymes and short stories about Groundhog Day.
- Groundhog.org is the official website for Punxsutawney Phil and offers free coloring pages, recipes and crossword puzzles for kids.
2013 Groundhog Events in Atlanta
- The Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn is home to the Southeast’s most famous groundhog, General Beau Lee (more commonly referred to as Beau or General Lee). He is Georgia’s Official Weather Prognosticator. Every Groundhog Day at sunrise, people gather at the ranch to see if the General will see his shadow when he emerges from his burrow. In 2011 and 2012, Beau did not see his shadow, meaning Atlanta was in for an early spring.
- 35th Annual Groundhog Day Jugglers Festival at Yaarab Shrine Center. Friday-Sunday, Feb 1-3, 2013. You’ll find jugglers, unicyclists, hoopers, live music, activities for kids, and family fun for all ages. You must be registered to compete and the public is invited to watch the juggling competition. Admission is free for spectators. Friday, Feb. 1: 5-10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
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