Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather.
The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters—known collectively as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club—on the idea. The men trekked to a site called Gobbler’s Knob, where the inaugural groundhog became the bearer of bad news when he saw his shadow.
The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, supposedly brought this tradition to the Teutons, or Germans, who picked it up and concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather, which they interpolated as the length of the “Second Winter.”
The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.
Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.
The American version of the Boy Scouts has it origins in an event that occurred in London in 1909. Chicago publisher William Boyce was lost in the fog when a Boy Scout came to his aid. After guiding Boyce to his destination, the boy refused a tip, explaining that as a Boy Scout he would not accept payment for doing a good deed. This anonymous gesture inspired Boyce to organize several regional U.S. youth organizations, specifically the Woodcraft Indians and the Sons of Daniel Boone, into the Boy Scouts of America.
On January 24, 1908, the Boy Scouts movement begins in England with the publication of the first installment of Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys. The name Baden-Powell was already well known to many English boys, and thousands of them eagerly bought up the handbook. By the end of April, the serialization of Scouting for Boys was completed, and scores of impromptu Boy Scout troops had sprung up across Britain.