When farmers in Germany came up with this crazy idea in the 1500s, the prescient animal wasn’t even a groundhog, but a badger.
And the tradition seems to be related to an earlier pagan celebration called Imbolc, which occurred midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
If the sun came out on Imbolc, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather, regardless of whether a groundhog or badger was involved.
When Germans settled in Pennsylvania, they brought their badger tradition with them, but Pennsylvania had no native badgers.
Luckily, the settlers were able to place their spring hopes on an earth dwelling animal that was plentiful in those parts, the groundhog, a type of woodchuck.