Groundhog Day 2012: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter

February 2, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Posted in Food | 2 Comments
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The world’s most famous groundhog emerged from his burrow and allegedly saw his shadow this morning, indicating that we’re in for six more weeks of winter.

The prescient critter weighs in on the fate of the nation’s weather each year on Feb. 2 at Gobbler’s Knob, a hill outside of Punxsutawney, Penn., about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The tradition is largely ceremonial (naturally, since groundhogscan’t

Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pa.

actually predict the weather), drawing thousands of people each year. Phil’s “prediction” is established in advance by the “Inner Circle,” otherwise known as the people who wear top hats and tuxedos and essentially serve as Phil’s security detail.

The ritual comes from an old German superstition that says if an animal who’s been hibernating does not cast a shadow on Feb. 2, which is the Christian holiday of Candlemas, then spring will arrive early. Among the predicted 15,000 to 18,000 spectators at this year’s ceremony was Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.

Since the Groundhog Day tradition began in the 1880s, Phil has predicted a long winter about 100 times, eliciting disapproving groans each time. But given that recent temperatures in several parts of the country have been hovering around 50 degrees lately, NewsFeed doesn’t think six more weeks of winter sounds half bad.

Read more:

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a holiday celebrated on February 2 in the United States and Canada. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day then spring will come early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.

Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow. In southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges (Grundsow Lodges) celebrate the holiday with fersommlinge, social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more g’spiel (plays or skits) are performed for entertainment. The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event, and those who speak English pay a penalty, usually in the form of a nickel, dime or quarter, per word spoken, put into a bowl in the center of the table.

The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day, already a widely recognized and popular tradition, received widespread attention as a result of the eponymous 1993 film Groundhog Day, which was set in Punxsutawney and portrayed Punxsutawney Phil.

The celebration, which began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European weather lore, wherein a badger or sacred bear is the prognosticator as opposed to a groundhog. It also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 1 and also involves weather prognostication and to St. Swithun‘s Day in July.


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  1. My favourite comedy!

    • one of my favorites too!

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