Groundhog Day is celebrated every year on February 2. This year my Groundhog Day Celebration was extra special because it was a double Gertie Day. Gertie Saves the Day met Gertie the Groundhog at the Wildlife Prairie Park.
What is Groundhog Day?
Groundhog Day, it is an unusual holiday that can be traced back hundreds of years to European traditions. The origins of Groundhog Day go all the way back to a Christian Feast Day of Candlemas. On February 2, Christians traditionally bring candles to their local church to be blessed. These candles brings light and warmth to the home for the second half of the winter. Germany created its own interpretation, which included small hibernating animals, such as the hedgehog. The hedgehog would help them decide when to begin planting their crops.
When the early German immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania, they brought Candlemas with them. Since hedgehogs are native to Europe, they searched for another burrowing animal, namely, the groundhog. Groundhog Day is famously connected to weather prediction. It involves a groundhog predicting the conclusion of winter by seeing (or not seeing) his own shadow. As I child I loved getting up early to find out if the groundhog saw his shadow or not. When I was younger we had off of school for snow days so you know what I was hoping for!
Gertie Saves the Day
As a classroom teacher, we celebrated Groundhog Day each year. We would read books, learn about groundhogs, the origins of Groundhog Day, we learned about shadows and so much more. When it came to writing my first book, I knew it had to be about Groundhog Day. Since most groundhogs were male, I wanted my character to be a female and so Gertie was written. Last Groundhog Day I found a post online that gave the names and predictions of groundhogs. You can imagine my surprise when I found out there was a real Gertie Groundhog at the Wildlife Prairie Park.
Wildlife Prairie Park
I took a chance and contacted Wildlife Prairie Park to see if they would be interested in having me read Gertie Saves the Day on Groundhog Day. They were very receptive to the idea and we spent some time figuring out how to make this work virtually. Since Wi-Fi can be glitchy, they thought it would be best to create a video of me reading the story. This way it could be shared in their Welcome Center, with their followers and classrooms on Groundhog Day. In fact, you can find the video on their website and YouTube. It was an exciting day because I was able to share Gertie Saves the Day with an audience who already knew Gertie Groundhog at the Wildlife Prairie Park. I am so thankful to Wildlife Prairie Park for partnering with me for this special event.
Sometimes as a writer we need to do things outside of our comfort zone. I was not sure if the Wildlife Prairie Park would be interested or if my ideas to read the story would work out. It turned out it better than I expected and I now have a new friend, Gertie the Groundhog. By the way, she has been correct more times than Punxsutawney Phil.
I am so glad you’re here and I thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you.
I’m looking forward to helping you as a children’s book writer in any way that I can. Speaking of helping — please leave a comment below and let me know what questions you have about picture book writing.
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