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Home > Calendar > Holidays > Canada > Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day in Canada

Quick Facts

Groundhog Day is celebrated in Canada on February 2 each year.

Name

Groundhog Day

Alternative name

Feast of Presentation of the Lord
List of dates for other years

Many Canadians take the time to observe Groundhog Day on February 2 each year, which is also Candlemas. Groundhog Day in Canada focuses on the concept of a groundhog coming out of its home in mid-winter to “predict” if spring is on its way in the northern hemisphere.


The groundhog (pictured above) attracts media attention on Groundhog Day in Canada. ©iStockphoto.com/Frank Leung

What do people do?

2011 Update:

Ontario's Wiarton Wille and Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam did not see their shadows in 2011. It is predicted to be an early spring.

Many Canadians celebrate Groundhog Day by attending festivals, engaging in activities and reading or listening to news about groundhog appearances on February 2. Some Christian churches celebrate Candlemas on this day. Other people mark Groundhog Day as the date to take down their Christmas decorations.

Groundhog Day has attracted media attention over the years and its popularity continues to grow in Canada.  A festival is held in the town of Wiarton in Bruce County, Ontario, to honor Groundhog Day. The town has its own groundhog, Wiarton Willie, which it shares with the nation. Locals, fans and news reporters come out to “hear Willie’s prediction” early in the morning on February 2 each year. Other events at the festival include dances, contests, parades and pancake breakfasts.

Public life

Groundhog Day is not a public holiday in Canada. However areas around parks and some streets may be busy or congested in towns, such as Wiarton, where Groundhog Day events are popular.

Background

Thousands of years ago when animalism and nature worship were prevalent, people in the area of Europe now known as Germany believed that the badger had the power to predict the coming of spring. They watched the badger to know when to plant their crops.

This tradition was brought over to North America, predominantly in Pennsylvania in the United States, where it was the groundhog, not the badger, which makes these “predictions”. According to folklore, if the groundhog will sees its shadow on February 2 it will return to its burrow, indicating that there will be six more weeks of winter. If it does not see its shadow, then spring is on the way.

The Groundhog Day concept became popular in Canada in 1956 when Wiarton Willie became a household name for his early February “weather predictions”. Wiarton’s Groundhog Day festival grew as Willie’s fame increased. It became one of the largest winter festivals in Bruce County, Canada. The original Wiarton Willie was an albino groundhog that was around 22 years old when it died during the winter of 1998-99. Other groundhogs have replaced the original groundhog as the new Wiarton Willie.

There are also other groundhogs in different parts of Canada. For example, Schubenacadie Sam is reportedly the first groundhog in the country to stick its head out on Groundhog Day. Other groundhogs include: Gary the Groundhog in Ontario, Brandon Bob in Manitoba and Balzac Billy in Alberta.

Symbols

The groundhog, also known as the woodchuck or marmot, is believed to make weather predictions relating to winter and spring according to superstition. Canada’s groundhog Wiarton Willie was popular enough to have its own statue in Wiarton, Ontario.

Movies, advertisements, cartoons and other media have portrayed the legendary role of the groundhog in popular culture. The term “Groundhog Day” is a phrase that is sometimes used to express if the same events or actions occur repetitively for a period of time.

Note: Please note that references to seasonal changes in this article relate to seasons in the northern hemisphere.

About Groundhog Day in other countries

Read more about Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SatFeb 21980Groundhog DayObservance 
MonFeb 21981Groundhog DayObservance 
TueFeb 21982Groundhog DayObservance 
WedFeb 21983Groundhog DayObservance 
ThuFeb 21984Groundhog DayObservance 
SatFeb 21985Groundhog DayObservance 
SunFeb 21986Groundhog DayObservance 
MonFeb 21987Groundhog DayObservance 
TueFeb 21988Groundhog DayObservance 
ThuFeb 21989Groundhog DayObservance 
FriFeb 21990Groundhog DayObservance 
SatFeb 21991Groundhog DayObservance 
SunFeb 21992Groundhog DayObservance 
TueFeb 21993Groundhog DayObservance 
WedFeb 21994Groundhog DayObservance 
ThuFeb 21995Groundhog DayObservance 
FriFeb 21996Groundhog DayObservance 
SunFeb 21997Groundhog DayObservance 
MonFeb 21998Groundhog DayObservance 
TueFeb 21999Groundhog DayObservance 
WedFeb 22000Groundhog DayObservance 
FriFeb 22001Groundhog DayObservance 
SatFeb 22002Groundhog DayObservance 
SunFeb 22003Groundhog DayObservance 
MonFeb 22004Groundhog DayObservance 
WedFeb 22005Groundhog DayObservance 
ThuFeb 22006Groundhog DayObservance 
FriFeb 22007Groundhog DayObservance 
SatFeb 22008Groundhog DayObservance 
MonFeb 22009Groundhog DayObservance 
TueFeb 22010Groundhog DayObservance 
WedFeb 22011Groundhog DayObservance 
ThuFeb 22012Groundhog DayObservance 
SatFeb 22013Groundhog DayObservance 
SunFeb 22014Groundhog DayObservance 
MonFeb 22015Groundhog DayObservance 
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