The Tradition Of Groundhog Day

How did we get to a point that a large rodent is telling us how much longer we have to deal with winter weather?! Why do people get so upset when Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow. How did it all start?! Well, here we go!

First of all…the day has become a celebration of sorts in the small town where Phil lives. There is a festive atmosphere in the city, including music and food…and of course Phil, who has become a National Celebrity thanks in part to the Bill Murray and Andie McDowell (1993) comedy film entitled “Groundhog Day.”

According to Wikipedia, the tradition begin in 1887. Every February 2nd, Phil, along with his wife Phyllis, and daughter Phelicia come out of their temporary home in Gobbler’s Knob (about two miles outside of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania). According to the tradition, if Phil comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, there will be at least six more weeks of “winter-like” weather. If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, then he would predict an “early spring.”

The tradition dates back to Celtic and German ancestry on the Pagan holiday of Imbolc, which Christians refer to as Candlemas Day. In Germany the tradition was held with hedgehogs. However, once Germans settled in the Northern portion of the United States, specifically, Pennsylvania, they replaced the hedgehog with a groundhog.

This year, once again “The Inner Circle” (Phil’s official handlers) say that since Phil saw his shadow, we can expect another extended cold spell and (at least) another six weeks of winter. However, with the temperature tomorrow hitting 80 degrees…Central Floridians ain’t scared of no huge rodent.

The video below is from the Ground Hog Club and gives a video history of the event. Basic explanation with no pomp & circumstance.

This video has excerpts from “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray.


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