Groundhog Day


Hanna La Londe, Writer

February 2nd is known as Groundhog Day in the United States. Most people have probably pondered why this is an annual holiday and why the nation’s next six weeks of weather are determined by a rodent. There is a rich history behind this seemingly pointless day that dates back to the 1880s.

Groundhog Day is stemmed from Candlemas Day, celebrated by early Christians in Europe. If the sun shone on that day, there were to be six more weeks of winter. This determination of the length of winter in the United States started in 1886 when The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper published the first observance. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is the home of Punxsy or Potomac Phil, the weather predicting groundhog, and is also known as the weather capital of the world.

Thousands of visitors waited in the frigid air to see Phil. At 7:25AM, Phil saw his shadow. Another six weeks of winter are in store, which is no surprise to the currently snow covered east coast.

There are other cities across North America that have their own furry forecasters. Atlanta, Ontario, Raleigh, New York City, Birmingham, and Sun Prairie (WI) are among these cities that have similar celebrations on Groundhog Day. Since 1887 Phil has seen his shadow 102 times and not seen it 17. Although this is a fun way to celebrate the winter, Punxsy Phil is only correct about 39 percent of the time.