Monday Morning Brief | Groundhog Day

February 01, 2016 08:18 AM

Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Groundhog Day, including stamps from the United States and Canada that picture groundhogs, and stamps from other countries related to the origins of Groundhog Day.

Full Video Transcript: 

Welcome to the Monday Morning Brief for February 1, 2016.

In the first two months of each year, several nations issue stamps with themes of love in time for use on Valentine’s Day mail. Earlier this year, the United States Postal Service continued its long-running Love stamp series with a Quilled Paper Heart forever stamp issued on Jan. 12.

But, another traditional holiday this month, has seemingly been all but ignored on postage stamps. This holiday is Groundhog’s Day. However, while there may not be stamps commemorating Feb. 2, there are a few stamps that picture groundhogs and their relatives and illustrate the traditions and customs that led to having a groundhog predict the weather.

A large rodent, in fact the largest member of the squirrel family, the groundhog is native to North America. It is also called the woodchuck, which is the name that appears on a 22¢ stamp in the 1987 North American Wildlife pane of 50.

Canada pictures four young woodchucks on a permanent-rate stamp issued Jan. 14, 2013, in a series devoted to baby animals.

According to most sources, what we now know as Groundhog Day was brought to Pennsylvania by German settlers as part of the celebration of Candlemas Day. A 1953 semipostal stamp of Luxembourg features Candlemas, part of a set showing folklore traditions.

This feast which marks the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple, received its name because the blessing and distribution of candles occurred on that day, and somewhere along the line, it also became associated with the prediction of weather.

An old English rhyme goes: “If Candlemas be fair and bright/Come, Winter, have another flight/If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,/Go Winter, and come not again.”

In Germany, they reportedly used a hedgehog on Candlemas Day, Feb. 2., to see if it would cast a shadow, which just like the groundhog’s shadow would mean six more weeks of bad weather.

And how did the groundhog become a substitute for the hedgehog? The Groundhog Day website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club answers this question, “Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans and they found groundhogs to be in profusion in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog, resembling the European hedgehog, was a most intelligent and sensible animal and therefore decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.”

And while we don’t have a postage stamp for Groundhog Day, there have been special postmarks for the occasion, including one from a few years ago showing the most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.
For Linn’s Stamp News and Scott Publishing, I’m Denise McCarty.

Have a Happy Groundhog’s Day, and enjoy your week in stamps and keep up on the latest stamp news by following Linn’s Stamp News on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.