Canada’s best-known weather-predicting groundhogs called for an early spring Tuesday as they delivered their annual forecasts over video due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though one was missing in action.
Nova Scotia’s most famous groundhog, Shubenacadie Sam, was the first to make his prediction, hesitantly emerging from his pint-sized barn and failing to see his shadow.
According to folklore, if a groundhog doesn’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day, spring-like weather will soon arrive. However, if the pug-nosed critter spots his shadow, winter will drag on.
Folklorists say the Groundhog Day ritual may have something to do with Feb. 2 landing midway between winter solstice and spring equinox, but no one knows for sure.
Over the years, crowds of people came to see the groundhog making its prediction. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, however, the annual event was transmitted via a pre-recorded video that was posted online Tuesday morning.
In Val d’Espoir on Quebec’s Gaspe peninsula, Fred La Marmotte was also reluctant to leave his miniature cabin.
When the rodent did finally emerge during the live-streamed event, his handler held him to his ear and said he had predicted an early spring.
In Wiarton, Ont., the community’s famous albino groundhog, Wiarton Willie, was nowhere to be seen as officials called an early spring after throwing a fur hat into the air — a move they said hearkens back to the tradition’s first edition more than 60 years ago.
Meanwhile, those south of the border were told to expect six more weeks of winter as Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow.
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