As the legend foretells, when the groundhog emerges from his hole and sees his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of bad weather, also referred to as the “2nd Winter.” Should it be cloudy, and he not see his shadow, it’s a sure sign of Spring.
Groundhog Day has its origins in Germany, where they used a hedgehog or badger to foretell the coming of Spring on Candlemas. Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers were German, so they chose the groundhog for its resemblance to the European hedgehog.
Punxsatawney Phil of Gobbler’s Knob, PA has been the official groundhog since 1887. To date, he has seen his shadow 97 times, has not seen it 15 times, and 9 years are unaccounted for. The National Climatic Data Center says that Phil has been correct 39% of the time, though Phil’s club says he has 100% accuracy. It is said that Phil owes his name to King Phillip, and was called Br’er Goundhog prior to being known as Phil.
Phil has had quite an illustrious career. During Prohibition, he threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn’t allowed a drink. In 1981, he wore a yellow ribbon in honor of the American hostages in Iran. He traveled to Washington, DC to meet President Reagan in 1986, met Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornberg in 1987, and appeared on Oprah in 1995. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell was the first sitting governor to attend Groundhog Day Ceremonies in 2001.
Some states are without groundhogs.
Louisiana has Claude the Cajun Crawfish, who says “If eets OK bayou, we will say ‘adieu’ to winter, cher!” when he emerges from the mud.
“Groundhog Day” is a phrase that is sometimes used to express if the same events or actions occur repetitively for a period of time. This premise is also the basis for the 1993 movie of the same title starring Bill Murray.
Punxsatawney Phil will be joined in his celebration by Wiarton Willie of Wiarton, Ontario, Canada; Staten Island Chuck of New York; Smith Lake Jake of Birmingham, AL; Buckeye Chuck of Marion, OH; General Beauregard Lee of Lilburn, GA, Balzac Billy of Balzac, Alberta, Canada; and Shubenacadie Sam of Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, Canada.