Jesus and the Groundhog

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Feb. 2, 2009) —It’s a long path from an ancient Christian feast to a weather-predicting rodent, but a faith-based charity in Florida says Punxsutawney Phil owes a lot to Jesus.

Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor, says that there’s no intent to detract from the annual tradition of Groundhog Day. Aloma just wishes that all the attention and excitement surrounding the event could also be associated with the real reasons behind the celebration.

“From Mardi Gras to Halloween, and Saint Patrick’s Day to Thanksgiving, these celebrations all have their roots in Christian beliefs and traditions,” says Aloma.

Early Christians celebrated February 2nd not as Groundhog Day but as Candlemas, a time to remember the day that Mary presented the infant Jesus at the temple.

By the 1700s, German settlers had brought Candlemas Day with them to Pennsylvania. Since Candlemas fell midway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, some believed that if the weather was fair on February 2nd, the second half of winter would be stormy and cold.

By 1841, a Pennsylvania storekeeper named James Moris penned the first American reference to Groundhog Day. Writing in his diary, Morris stated that according to German tradition, if a groundhog sees its shadow on Candlemas Day there will be six more weeks of winter. Forty-five years later, the first official celebration of Groundhog Day was announced in the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper.

“I hope Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow so we can look for a quicker end to winter,” says Aloma. “But when it comes to trying to predict when we’ll get control of poverty and world hunger, I’m going to keep putting my faith in God and the work we do at Food For The Poor.”

Food For The Poor is the largest international relief and development organization in the nation. With more than 96% of all donations going directly to programs that help those in need, Food For The Poor provides nourishing food, safe shelter, necessary medical care, educational materials, support for orphans and the aged, and much more to the poorest of the poor in 17 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.

To learn more about Food For The Poor, log on to

Hugh Graf
954-427-2222 x 6610