Groundhog Day


Continuing with the 124 year tradition, the wildly famous groundhog from Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil, emerged from his hole on February 2 at Gobbler’s Knob to announce to the entire country his prediction for the winter season.  The legend goes that if Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter and if he doesn’t, an early spring is on the way.  The holiday itself has been celebrated at Gobbler’s Knob since 1887 when Phil made his first recorded prediction. 

However this tradition goes back even farther than Punxsutawney Phil.  According to the official Groundhog Day Website, when the Germans came to America, they brought along this unique tradition.  Originally they believed that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, the hedgehog would cast a shadow predicting six more weeks of winter.  “For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl until the May,” recited the Germans.  Once they came to America, German settlers decided on using a groundhog for their weather prediction rather than the hedgehog. 

“I personally like the holiday; it’s something to look forward to,” said senior Ryan Stouffer about the often disregarded holiday.  While wildly popular for the tens of thousands of people who come from all around the world on February 2 just to see a groundhog, others are not as enthusiastic about the event.  “If a rodent can bring us an early spring, more power to him,” said senior Nick Johnson. 

Agreeing with Johnson is fellow senior Meghan Aukerman who said “I think it’s ridiculous because the groundhog always sees his shadow because of the lights they shine on him.  We’re always going to have six more weeks of winter no matter what he sees.” 

But the non-believers can’t deny the holiday’s continuously growing popularity in today’s pop culture.  Some of this increasing popularity can be found on the Groundhog Day website under the “History” tab.  Actor Bill Murray starred in the movie “Groundhog Day” in 1993, where the actor relived the same Groundhog Day over and over again.  Then in 2001, Phil’s prediction was broadcasted live on the Jumbo Tron in the middle of Times Square for all of New York City to see.  In addition, Phil’s official prediction has been attended by PA Governor Ed Rendell, making him the first sitting governor ever to be present for the Groundhog Day ceremony.

Other states have also taken up the famous Pennsylvania tradition.  Some of these weather predicting groundhogs include, Smith Lake Jake from Graysville Alabama, Staten Island Chuck from Staten Island New York City, and General Beauregard Lee from Atlanta Georgia.  While these groundhogs do predict if there will be six more weeks of winter, Punxsutawney Phil is by far the most popular and is known worldwide. 

Weighing 20 pounds with a length of 22 inches, Punxsutawney Phil and his Inner Circle of handlers have scheduled a wide variety of events for the big day.  Some activities on the itinerary include breakfast with Phil, art shows, book readings, benefit concerts, and autograph sessions.  But the most important occurred at 7:25 Wednesday morning when Phil came out of his hole, and gave his 2011 prediction for an early spring.