Happy Groundhog Day! This day began in Pennsylvania in the 1800s as a Pennsylvanian German celebration. Its origins date back to ancient European weather lore when a sacred bear was the weather predictor instead of the groundhog. Groundhog Day falls on February 2nd each year.

According to Groundhog Day folklore, if the groundhog emerges from his burrow and sees his shadow (sunny morning), winter will last another six weeks. If the groundhog does not see his shadow (cloudy morning), then spring will arrive early. Today, Groundhog Day is celebrated with a groundhog prediction, festivities, food, movie, and speeches.

A groundhog exploring outside its burrow.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhog Day

  • Groundhog Day was adopted in the U.S. in 1887. Clymer H. Freas was the editor of the local paper, Punxsutawney Spirit, and he began promoting the town’s groundhog as the official “Groundhog Day meteorologist.”
  • Since then, the largest and most famous celebration for Groundhog Day in the U.S. is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and the groundhog’s name is Punxsutawney Phil.
  • Groundhog Day celebration organizers claim that predictions are accurate about 75% to 90% of the time.
  • Approximately 40,000 people attend the Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania each February 2nd.
  • Groundhogs eat a lot of food all summer and become very fat and then sleep all winter. These furry mammals are known as “true hibernators.” During their dormant state, their body temperature and heart rate fall dramatically.
  • Pennsylvania isn’t the only state where Groundhog Day is highly celebrated. In Alaska, the festival is observed as “Marmot Day,” due to the scarcity of groundhogs there.
  • The last time Punxsutawney Phil announced it was going to be spring instead of six more weeks of winter, was in 2013.
  • According to Stormfax, Punxsutawney Phil’s weather predictions have been accurate approximately 39% of the time since 1887. He sees his shadow about 85% of the time.
  • A movie was made in 1993 called ‘Groundhog Day’. It was filmed in Woodstock, Illinois but was portrayed as Punxsutawney. It was a comedy about a man reliving the same day repeatedly until he became a better person.
  • Events in and around Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, draw thousands of visitors each year. Fireworks, stage performances, a Weather Discovery Center, museum and even steaming cups of “Phil Latte,” all center around the town’s well-known groundhog history. Every year, the 1993 movie Groundhog Day is screened in Punxsutawney.

 

What’s your prediction? Are we going to have six more weeks of winter, or is warmer weather just around the corner?