You can't get pork chops from a groundhog and woodchucks can't chuck wood.
But they are good for some winter fun that has grown into a western Pennsylvania tradition shared each year by all North Americans looking forward to the end of snow and ice.The superstition that an animal's shadow, or absence of one, on Feb. 2 can predict winter's longevity began in Europe with badgers and bears, according to Tristram Potter Coffin, University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus of English and folklore.
German and English immigrants to the New World focused instead on the groundhog, also known as the common woodchuck.
According to the legend, if a groundhog sees its shadow Feb. 2, spring is six weeks away.
But if its shadow is nowhere in sight, winter will vanish in just two weeks.
"Good weather meant more bad days and bad weather meant good days coming. I don't know why," Coffin said. "I don't know why it switched to the woodchuck, either."