How long do they live

Four marmots nibble on butter cookies in the Hohe Tauern Nature Park in ÖAustria

Four marmots nibbling on butter cookies in the Hohe Tauern Nature Park in Austria.

Image: Gene J. Puskar, dpa (archive photo)

Four marmots nibble on butter cookies in Hohe Tauern Nature Park in Austria.

Image: Gene J. Puskar, dpa (archive photo)

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Daily greets the groundhog? Well, mainly today on 2. February, because that is Groundhog Day, as it is called in English. A holiday celebrated mainly in America and made famous worldwide by the movie of the same name starring Bill Murray "Groundhog Day". But the tradition supposedly has its origins in Germany.

Groundhog Day 2022: This is the custom in America

This beaver-like animal is supposed to predict the further course of winter every year on Candlemas. For this purpose, a special committee (mostly men in suits and top hats) wakes up the groundhog in a ceremony and takes it out of its burrow or a specially built hiding place. If the animal sees its shadow (i.e. the sun is shining), it is frightened and crawls back into its burrow. On the other hand, if the weather is hazy and cloudy and there is no shade, then spring is supposed to be just around the corner.

This is how Groundhog Day 2021 went in Punxsutawney:

Where does the tradition of Groundhog Day come from??

The tradition is said to have been brought to the USA by settlers with German roots. On 2. In this country, the Feast of the Candlemas, one of the oldest feasts of the Christian church, is celebrated in February. For the old farmers the 2. February a so-called lot day. This means that this day determines the weather for the next few weeks. Therefore, there are also some old peasant rules that apply to this lot day:

  • "When it storms and snows on Candlemas, spring is not far away. But if it is clear and bright, the Lenz does not yet come so quickly."
  • "As long as the lark sings before Candlemas, as long as it neither sings nor swings afterwards."

But how does the groundhog come into play now, you ask?? Many of these old country sayings refer to the badger or the bear. So also the saying: "If the badger sinks in the Candlemas week, he remains four weeks still in the hole."

Why Candlemas used to have such great significance for farmers

Now many Germans from the age of 17. The first settlers traveled to the U.S. in the nineteenth century to try their luck in the New World. It is therefore assumed that these German settlers simply brought their tradition with them to their new homeland. And since there were no badgers there, another hibernator had to do the job: The woodchuck.

Groundhog expert John Griffiths holds the groundhog ceremony on February 2, 2009 in Punxsutawney (USA)'Punxsutawney Phil' in die Höhe. 'Punxsutawney Phil' sagt jedes Jahr am 2. Februar vorher, ob der Winter weiter andauert oder bald der Frühling kommt.

And daily greets the groundhog. But where?

The most famous event surrounding the Groundhog Day custom is a place in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania called Punxsutawney. The movie "Groundhog Day" is also set there, which, from a tradition known only to a few, has made what is probably the world’s best-known weather forecast.

Every year thousands of visitors arrive in time for the marmot ceremony on 2. February to the small town to see "Punxsutawney Phil." trying to predict the beginning of spring.

But the ceremony is also celebrated outside the cult town in the west of the USA. For example in the Canadian province of Alberta, in Stone Mountain in the US state of Georgia, in Sun Prairie in Wisconsin or also in Staten Island, New York.

Are the predictions true?? How often is the groundhog right??

Without wanting to offend the gentlemen of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Groundhog Phil is probably not very reliable with his prophecies. So far, his hit rate has been just under 40 percent. Theoretically, it can’t even hold a candle to a random coin toss. Because that comes statistically in the long run always on a probability of 50 per cent.

Does Groundhog Day also exist in the Allgau??

Here in the region, the custom is not celebrated, although the Allgau is a paradise for the small fluffy rodents. In the Hintersteiner Valley near Bad Hindelang, there is even an alpine meadow that is so popular with the animals, which are about 60 centimeters tall, that it has the nickname marmot meadow.

A marmot in the Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria. In the Allgau Alps, too, the small rodents feel grumpily at home

The groundhogs can enjoy the weather in the Alps here away from the hustle and bustle without having to predict it. But many people also come to the Allgau to see the animals on a guided tour. Because last year the "Alpinium – Zentrum Naturerlebnis Alpin" started its own program of animal observation tours for the "Allgau Big Five" – i.e. the Big Five in the Allgau.

Marmot tours in the Allgau are a complete success

Picture gallery

Allgau Big Five: These five animals are the stars of the Alps

Even in the Allgau there are the Big Five. These are, unlike in Africa, not elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. In this picture gallery we present the "Big Five" of the Alps of the Alps.

Picture: dpa/Lienert/Munkler / Montage: AZ

The Allgau also has its Big Five. Unlike in Africa, these are not elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and leopard, i.e. the big five. In this picture gallery we present the "Big Five" of the Alps before.

Picture: dpa/Lienert/Munkler / Montage: AZ

The alpine chough has a wingspan of up to 68 centimeters. They attract the attention of mountain hikers mainly because of their daring flight maneuvers. The alpine chough is said to be able to predict the weather. When alpine choughs appear in the valley in winter, it is a sign of early snowfall

The alpine chough has a wingspan of up to 68 centimeters. They attract the attention of mountain hikers mainly by their daring flight maneuvers. The alpine chough is said to be able to predict the weather. When alpine jackdaws show up in the valley in winter, it’s a sign of early snowfall.

Image: Jigme Dorje, dpa (archive image)

The alpine chough has a wingspan of up to 68 centimeters. They attract the attention of mountain hikers mainly by their daring flight maneuvers. The alpine jackdaw is said to be able to predict the weather. When alpine jackdaws make an appearance in the valley in winter, it is a sign of early snowfall.

Image: Jigme Dorje, dpa (archive image)

The golden eagle is also called the king of the birds. With a wingspan of up to 2.3 meters, it is one of the largest birds of prey. In the Upper Allgau Alps live about ten pairs of birds, which can be seen again and again

The golden eagle is also called the king of the skies. With a wingspan of up to 2.3 meters, it belongs to the large birds of prey. In the Upper Allgau Alps live about ten pairs of birds, which can be seen again and again.

Image: Hauke-Christian Dittrich, dpa (archive image)

The golden eagle is also called the king of the skies. With a wingspan of up to 2.3 meters, it belongs to the large birds of prey. In the Oberallgau Alps live about ten pairs of birds that can be seen again and again.

Image: Hauke-Christian Dittrich, dpa (archive image)

Among other things, gnats can be recognized by their characteristic facial markings. Forehead, cheeks and chin are white. From the upper lip to the base of the horn they have so-called zügel stripes. In summer they are often found in mats and mountain pine regions in the Alps. In winter, they prefer sunlit, snow-free sites, for example on steep slopes and wind-exposed ridges

Chamois can be recognized, among other things, by their characteristic facial markings. Forehead, cheeks and chin are white. From the upper lip to the base of the horn they have so-called rein stripes. In summer, chamois are often found in the Alps in mats and mountain pine regions. In winter they prefer to live in sunny, snow-free places, for example on steep slopes and wind-exposed ridges.

Image: Lino Mirgeler, dpa (Symbolic image)

Chamois can be recognized, among other things, by their characteristic facial markings. Forehead, cheeks and chin are white. From the upper lip to the base of the horns they have so-called rein stripes. In summer, chamois in the Alps are often found in mats and mountain pine regions. In winter they prefer sunny, snow-free places, for example on steep slopes and wind-exposed ridges.

Image: Lino Mirgeler, dpa (symbol image)

Marmots are widespread throughout the Alpine region. They are found at altitudes between 900 and 2500 meters. They prefer to live in alpine, rock-strewn grasslands or in rocky corridors with sparse herbaceous vegetation

Marmots are common throughout the Alps. They are found at altitudes between 900 and 2500 meters. They prefer to live in alpine, rocky grasslands or in rocky meadows with patchy herbaceous vegetation.

Image: Ralf Lienert (archive image)

Marmots are widespread in the entire alpine region. They are found at altitudes between 900 and 2500 meters. They prefer to live in alpine, rocky grasslands or in rocky meadows with patchy herbaceous vegetation.

Image: Ralf Lienert (archive image)

The ibex males are particularly conspicuous for their large, backward-curved horns. Alpine ibexes live on steep slopes at altitudes of up to 3500 meters

The ibex males are particularly conspicuous for their large, backward curved horns. Alpine ibex live on steep slopes at an altitude of up to 3500 meters.

Image: Michael Munkler (archive image)

Male ibexes are particularly conspicuous for their large, backward-curving horns. Alpine ibex live on steep slopes at an altitude of up to 3500 meters.

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