Groundhog Day: 8 Facts About Our Favorite Groundhog
It’s February 2 — Groundhog Day. We’ve been through six weeks of winter so-far and today is the day our fuzzy friend in Pennsylvania tells us that spring is still a ways off and we have to endure winter a little longer. Chief prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, is the groundhog we look to for that answer every year. Whether he has any authority on the matter is irrelevant, it’s a tradition we love to celebrate. Here are 8 facts about our favorite groundhog and his most important day of the year.
- Every February 2 since 1887, a ceremony has been held to watch Punxsutawney Phil as he emerges from his home. If he sees his shadow and is scared back into his burrow, there will be another month and a half of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, we can expect to have an early spring.
- Punxsutawney Phil lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to a poll of Pennsylvania residents 59 percent like Punxsutawney Phil, but only 8 percent believe his predictions.
- According to the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, there has only been one Punxsutawney Phil even though groundhogs have a life expectancy of 9 to 14 years. The Inner Circle claims Phil drinks groundhog punch every summer and that’s what has given him a long life.
- The Groundhog Club started in the 1800s. They went out in the woods of Pennsylvania looking for groundhogs coming out of hibernation as an adaptation of a German tradition. That’s how Punxsutawney Phil was found.
- Phil’s full name is “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.”
- Though the Groundhog Club believes Punxsutawney Phil is the only groundhog who can make the prediction, there are a few other groundhogs people look to for weather guidance. In Canada an albino groundhog named Wiarton Willie makes the prediction, New York City relies on Pothole Pete, and Atlanta looks to General Beauregard Lee.
- The movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, is centered around Punxsutawney Phil in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The movie was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois. Woodstock now has its own Groundhog Day ceremony every year with festivities starting the week before Groundhog Day.
- The screenwriter and director for the movie Groundhog Day was Ghostbuster Harold Ramis. Ramis died in 2014 and the town of Woodstock will honor the funny man as a part of the Groundhog Day festival.
We’re still traumatized by Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of February 2, 2014 in which case he was correct about six more weeks of winter. Let’s hope this year is a bit different, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for lots of snow and cold for a few more weeks.