The legend of punxsutawney Phil
and the origins of Groundhog Day
6 more weeks of Winter!
Groundhog Day is a popular North American tradition and unofficial holiday that is observed annually on the morning of February the 2nd. The Legend goes that if a groundhog comes out of its den on the morning of the 2nd and sees its shadow, then there will be 6 more weeks of harsh Winter. However if it does not see its shadow, due to overcast skies, then the Weather will let up and an early Spring will soon be ushered in.
The tradition of Groundhog Day was brought to America in the 1800’s by German and Dutch immigrants and is a take off of an old bit of weather lore from Germany known as “Badger Day,” where a Badger would leave it’s den and see it’s shadow, then predicting 4 more weeks of Winter.
While there are many regional variations of the weather predicting Groundhog such as “Buckeye Chuck” in Ohio, “Sir Walter Wally” in North Carolina, and “Wiarton Willie” in British Columbia, by far the most famous and thought to be the longest standing is Pennsylvania’s “Punxsutawney Phil.”
A movie and tv star
First publicized in America by the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper in 1886, these lovable rodents have become wildly popularized over the years as most the of the regional groundhogs are now televised locally when making their predictions and Punxsutawney Phil receives National attention each year during his famous ceremony held in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The holiday itself even became of movie back in 1993 with the now cult famous “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray.
Each year skiers and snowboarders and all snow sport loving folks celebrate his prediction for another 6 weeks of good snow and Winter, or are saddened if calls an early halt to the season. And while it’s a neat little tradition and something to lift our spirits up and a have a laugh about, they are just rodents after all and statistics kept in Pennsylvania actually have Phil batting about 40% on his predictions over the years. However inaccurate, it’s still an amusing tale and a deeply ingrained part of the seasonal folklore of North America. One that is sure to endure for many a Winter to come.
~Punxsutawney Phil after seeing his shadow~
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The legend of punxsutawney Phil and the origins of Groundhog Day