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A groundhog holds a peach in its front paws
The 2011 photo "Groundhog & Peach" by "Steve 1828" was shared to Flickr with a creative commons license. [ ]

Groundhog Day on the Folklife Today Podcast!

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We’re back with another episode of the Folklife Today podcast! Find it at this page on the Library’s website, or on Stitcher, iTunes, or your usual podcatcher.

In this episode, John Fenn, Michelle Stefano, and I come out of podcast hibernation to discuss Groundhog Day traditions. Drawing on the research of Don Yoder, we talk about the history and folklore of the holiday, including groundhog observances among the Pennsylvania Dutch, weather proverbs, and even cooking and eating groundhogs. There are even four groundhog songs! Sound good? Very well then…

Get your podcast here!


As is often the case, much of the material in the podcast is discussed elsewhere on the blog, and other resources are available on the Library’s website. Find the relevant links below!

The Great Groundhog Day Post 

Most of the fun facts and folklore in the podcast were previously featured in our Whistlepig Manifesto, otherwise known as the Great Groundhog Day post, “Groundhog Day: Ancient Origins of a Modern Celebration.” Find that august document at this link!

Groundhog Songs

A man plays guitar
Blues and string band musician Sam Chatmon playing at home in Mississippi in 1978. This is a frame from a video by Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long. Find AFC’s Sam Chatmon videos at this link.

If you like Marmot Melodies, you’re in luck!  The podcast features four of them, and we can drop them below too!

First up is “The Groundhog,” or as our embedded player below charmingly calls it, “Groundhog, The.” It was sung by Ernie Alston, in Shafter FSA Camp in California, August 4, 1940. You can find the complete details at this link, and the song should play in the player below.

Six men play musical instruments.
“The King Family Playing Music.” Photo by Robert Hemmig. From AFC’s Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Workers Collection. Find the archival scan here.

The second song was “Fod,” performed by the King Family at Visalia FSA Camp in California on September 2, 1941. In the song, a woodchuck has a fight with a skunk. And, as you may know, “woodchuck” is just another name for groundhog! You can find the complete song details at this link, and the song should play in the player below.

Two men in the foreground sit in chairs, one with a guitar and one with a banjo. Four children are between them, one of whom plays a guitar. There is a crowd of people behind them.
This publicity photo from the 1920s shows Bradley Kincaid (guitar) and George “Shortbuckle” Roark (banjo) with Roark’s children and a crowd of admirers. We believe the photo is in the public domain. Roark recorded “Groundhog” for the Lomaxes in 1938.

Next is another version of “Groundhog,” Sung and played on the banjo by George “Shortbuckle” Roark in Pineville, Kentucky on January 1, 1938. You can find more details here–and this link might work if the player below doesn’t!

Finally, we ended the podcast with Sam Chatmon performing “Prowling Groundhog.” That’s a 1978 recording of Chatmon in Hollandale, Mississippi, which was shot on video; you can watch it at this link.

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for listening!

In case you need that podcast link again…here it is!

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