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Groundhog Day in Canada

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.

Is Groundhog Day a Public Holiday?

Groundhog Day is not a public holiday. It falls on Saturday, February 2, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Saturday opening hours in Canada.

The groundhog attracts media attention on Groundhog Day in Canada.

©iStockphoto.com/David P. Lewis

What Do People Do?

Many Canadians celebrate Groundhog Day. Some Christian churches also celebrate Candlemas on this day, while others use Groundhog Day to take down their Christmas decorations.

Groundhog Day is growing more and more popular in Canada.  There is a festival in Wiarton, Bruce County, Ontario, where the town groundhog, Wiarton Willie, delivers his “prediction” early in the morning on February 2 every year.

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 where Groundhog Day events are popular.

Early or Late Spring?

Thousands of years ago when animalism and nature worship were prevalent, people in the part of Europe where Germany is today, 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 to Pennsylvania in the United States, where it was the groundhog, not the badger, which made these “predictions”.

According to folklore, if the groundhog 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 first 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.

There are also other groundhogs in different parts of Canada. For example, Shubenacadie 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.

Fame From Hollywood

The movie “Groundhog Day” from 1993, starring comedian Bill Murray, made the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania famous worldwide. The film's plot added new meaning to “Groundhog Day” as something that repeats itself endlessly.

Groundhog Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010TueFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2011WedFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2012ThuFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2013SatFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2014SunFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2015MonFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2016TueFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2017ThuFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2018FriFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2019SatFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 
2020SunFeb 2Groundhog DayObservance 

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