The groundhog, also known as woodchuck, land beaver, or whistle-pig, is, according to National Geographic’s website, the largest member of the squirrel family. They feast on vegetation all summer long in order to build up a large enough fat reserve to allow them to hibernate through the winter, which, according to Susie Bylund, “Sounds like a pretty good idea.”
The hibernation of the whistle pig gave birth to the American tradition of Groundhog Day. Tradition states that if the land beaver arises from his hole in the dirt and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.
I, personally, have trouble comprehending that. In order for there to be shadows, there can’t be cloud cover. It must be sunny outside. Most of the time when it is sunny, there is a good chance the weather is at least mildly pleasant. So yes, when the weather is nice, the groundhog tells us that since it is nice outside, there will surely be six more weeks of winter.
Maybe groundhogs prefer cloudy days. Maybe whistle pigs don’t care for tanning. Maybe they get sunburns easily and don’t wear adequate sunblock. Maybe land beavers should consider wearing sunglasses so the nice, warm sunlight doesn’t temporarily blind them. Maybe the sunlight hits their face and it triggers their photic sneeze reflex, causing them to sneeze. Maybe marmots shouldn’t be trusted to inform us if there will be six more weeks of winter, because I don’t have much faith in their methods of prediction.
*No groundhogs were harmed in the making of the above photo or article.