Why do we celebrate Groundhog Day?

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Before we received weather reports from rodents and life lessons from time loops, Groundhog Day evolved for centuries into the bizarre holiday it is today.

For one day each year, people across North America count on a network of groggy groundhogs to rise at dawn and issue a six-week weather outlook. It's a popular tradition from Punxsutawney, Pa., to Vancouver, B.C., with crowds often braving bitter cold on Feb. 2 just to see the furry forecasters in action.

But why? How did such a strange ritual ever get started? And is there any truth behind groundhogs' weather-predicting reputation?

Groundhog Day as we know it began around 1887 in Punxsutawney, but its roots go back hundreds and even thousands of years. The holiday has origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc, which was held Feb. 1, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Imbolc was a festival for the coming spring, and often featured primitive meteorology in an attempt to predict or control how quickly spring arrived.

As Christianity swept through the British Isles, missionaries incorporated Brigid, the Celtic goddess of Imbolc, into St. Brigid of Kildare, a patron saint of Ireland. Imbolc was replaced with Candlemas, a feast dedicated to St. Brigid that took place every year on Feb. 2....

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