Groundhog Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Groundhog Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

If you’re considering getting a new tattoo, chances are you’d like to put some thought into what will be permanently inked onto your body! Animals are a popular choice for tattoos, especially among pet owners.

However, one of the popular emerging tattoo designs features a certain furry critter known as the groundhog.

I’ve done some digging into the history of the animal itself to get a better idea of it’s popularity as a choice for tattoos. Let’s take a closer look at the particulars of these tattoos: history, meanings, ; designs!

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What is the History of Groundhog Tattoos?

It is pretty much impossible to investigate the history of groundhog tattoos without first talking about the animal in popular culture. Check out this list of the significance of the animal which may have led the tattoos of this creature to become so popular!

  • Groundhog Animal
  • Groundhog Day (Holiday)
  • Groundhog Day (film)

Let’s dive deeper into how these significant days or films in pop culture may have led to the popularity of the tattoo.

Groundhog Animal

The groundhog is also called a woodchuck! It is technically a large rodent, meaning it is in the same grouping as a mouse or a rat, and actually, it’s closest relative is the squirrel.

Many consider groundhogs to be cuter than mice and rats, though! Though they’re rounder and cuddlier-looking than the average mouse, woodchucks are wild and not usually domesticated as pets.

These animals are famous for the holiday named after them, but they also inspired the common tongue-twister, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” This riddle was prompted by the true fact that woodchucks, can burrow through up to 700 pounds of wood or dirt.

They are about as big as a small cat, only twenty-four inches long and weighing up to thirteen pounds. Some of their most endearing habits include eating as much as they can (a pound of food in one sitting!) to prepare for hibernation and then taking long naps in the sun. That’s certainly relatable enough to warrant getting a tattoo of this animal, if you ask me!

Groundhog Day (Holiday)

There is a tradition in the United States on February 2nd which granted this particular day the name “Groundhog Day.” It was started by Dutch settlers, but is celebrated today by Canadians and Americans alike.

This tradition involved an actual rodent meteorologist, who would document whether or not a woodchuck comes out of it’s hole, notices it’s shadow, and flees back into it’s burrow in fear. If this did happen, the rodent meteorologist determined that six more weeks of winter weather would follow. If it didn’t, it was said to be a sign that spring was upon us a little early!

The first time the holiday was historically celebrated was on February 2nd of 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. To this day, Punxsutawney holds a three-day celebration surrounding February 2nd, and hundreds of people attend the festivities and watch to see if the animal is frightened by it’s shadow during the main event!

The Punxsutawney town actually has an official club for the holiday. One member of this club was a newspaper editor, who declared to the public in 1887 that the only woodchuck in America able to actually predict the weather is a woodchuck living in Punxsutawney named Phil.

Phil’s name continues to be passed down from animal to animal; in fact, this prompted other places, like Birmingham, to find and name their own weather-predicting animals.

Therefore, it is safe to say that most Americans know what a groundhog is and associate the animal with a day of celebration and the possible end of winter weather. This is more than enough to base a tattoo idea around!

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Groundhog Day (Film)

The film Groundhog Day starred actor Bill Murray and was released in 1993. Directed by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis, it caused the title phrase to be used commonly in households across the United States.

The film features a weather man who is snotty and condescending to others around him, stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where the Groundhog Day holiday was invented. He winds up being forced to keep living through the same day, over and over.

The film was so popular it gained iconic status, and even has its own Broadway musical adaptation, which began in 2016.

Many tattoos feature Bill Murray in the imagery as an homage to this film, which brings up the idea of being stuck in a bad scenario, and turning horrible situations into something useful.

What Do Groundhog Tattoos Symbolize?

Groundhogs typically symbolize life, birth, renewal, and hope. This can all be traced back to the animal itself, because woodchucks are known for being animals whose lives revolve around the habit of hibernation. Hibernation, in turn, is a process that the mammal engages in to sleep away the harsh winter weather and emerge again during the spring.

Not only that, but because of this critter’s prominent featurization in Groundhog Day, both the movie and the holiday, it’s no wonder that these tattoos are associated with hope!

Ultimately, the animal in the tattoo is known for heralding the end of dark winter and the beginning of spring. Tattoos of a this animal typically symbolize these sentiments.

What Do Groundhog Tattoos Mean?

Groundhog tattoos can have a few meanings, but the most easily assumed meanings have to do with the season of spring. The animals are known for returning during the spring after hibernating through the winter, even if we’re not consideringthe holiday.

Another potential meaning for a groundhog tattoo has to do with the actor, Bill Murray. If you notice a groundhog tattoo that also features or alludes to Bill Murray visually, you can safely assume that the tattoo’s meaning is linked to the 1993 film, Groundhog Day.

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Characteristics and Styles of Groundhog Tattoos

The characteristics of most animal tattoos are usually line art, meaning they are only black or gray and do not involve filling the entire picture with colored ink. Though this is not the case for all tattoos, it is true for the majority of popular designs.

The groundhog is usually depicted standing on it’s hind legs, making the composition of the tattoo vertical and great for sleeve locations on the body.

One of the most popular types of groundhog tattoos are those referencing the Groundhog Day movie. These will usually be distinguished by including not only a groundhog, but the actor, Bill Murray. These are more likely to be fully in color, but not always.

Where Do Groundhog Tattoos Usually Go?

According to online listings for popular groundhog tattoos, most tattoos go on the lower abdomen or back. This is typically true for larger tattoos that are meant to display Bill Murray’s face or the car commonly seen in posters and cover still for the film Groundhog Day.

A few tattoos, particularly the smallest designs, are most commonly displayed on the thigh or upper arm as sleeves.

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Summary

In summary, groundhog tattoos, which are usually black lineart and adorn the lower abdomen, arms, or legs in location, are symbolic of springtime and renewal.

They are usually associated with the animal, which hibernates for the winter before heralding spring, and has inspired a holiday called Groundhog Day and a film of the same name. Groundhog tattoos typically reference these things!

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