Groundhog Day is today, Saturday, Feb. 2, and fans of General Beauregard Lee will be gathering to see if there's a longer winter or a soon-to-arrive spring.
According to the myth, if a groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; if he does not, spring is right around the corner.
General Lee, Georgia’s furry forecaster, will make his annual weather prediction at the Yellow River Game Ranch just before 8 am.
It's been a wacky weather week in Georgia - 70-degree temperatures, tornadoes, and lots of rain, and in the past two weeks frigid temperatures and icy roads have been a problem. So, getting the furry forecaster's prognostication is just in time.
"I think people enjoy having some news that's actually fun," said Codi Reeves, owner of the Yellow River Game Ranch. "It's a welcome break from crime, politics, and bad weather."
If Beau sees his shadow Saturday, or so the folklore goes, it means six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, it means an early spring.
The annual Groundhog Day celebration at the Yellow River Game Ranch on Stone Mountain Highway in Lilburn is in its 33rd year. Perhaps hundreds of Beau supporters are expected to show up for the sunrise soiree. Gifts honoring Beau are appropriate.
"People travel so far to see Beau because he is the most famous Southern Groundhog," Reeves said in an email. "They like to have 'their' rep when it comes to prognosticators, not one way up North."
Free admission will be granted to visitors from 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., and anyone who has a birthday Feb. 2 will also be granted free admission all day. (Appropriate photo identification or visa is necessary.)
Just before 8 a.m., Beau will emerge, look for his shadow and greet guests. He's been right more than 90 percent of the time.
Beau will first announce his prediction on his Twitter page (@GameRanch). And new this year, Instagram users can follow Beau’s photo stream at @GameRanch, where there will be photos posted by Beau and the game ranch staffers.
Groundhog Day and other similar legends are based on the beliefs of Europeans, but the true origins of the holiday are lost in time. The day originated from the Germans, Scots and early Christian Europeans.
It is celebrated every year on Feb. 2. On this day, a groundhog comes out of its burrow and checks for his shadow to determine how soon spring will arrive.
Groundhog Day as we know it in the U.S. started because the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers wanted to know if spring was coming early or not. That information helped them decide when they should plant seeds and half their hay.
Europeans used hedgehogs as the animal that determined the season change but Pennsylvania Dutch farmers chose the groundhog because they were found in greater numbers in North America. Groundhog Day stemmed from the ancient traditions of Candlemas, a holiday that originated in early Christian Europe that was celebrated by the Germans.
Tell Us: Do you think spring will come early this year? Share your opinion in the comments section below.
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