Groundhog Day: Fact or Fiction

The History and Common Opinions about the Famous Groundhog from Pennsylvania

Groundhog Day: Fact or Fiction

Determining the weather in our country based on the vision of a groundhog seems insane. However, that does not stop Americans from believing that if a groundhog saw his shadow on some random day in February then we would either have more winter or an early spring. This widespread belief comes from hundreds of years of people watching an old groundhog from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. 

The history of these annual forecasts came from the idea that if a groundhog came out of its burrow and saw his shadow, he would be scared and run back into his hole and six more weeks of winter would follow. However if he did not see his shadow, he would not be scared of anything and spring would come early. 

This bogus holiday began in 1887 when Punxsutawney Phil made his first debut. Obviously, a groundhog cannot live for 136 years, but legend has it that he is immortal due to a magic drink that he has at the Annual Groundhog Picnic each summer in Pennsylvania. The precise yet peculiar date of this annual event also has a meaningful reason. February 2 of each year falls perfectly in the middle of the winter solstice and the spring equinox, so it is believed that this day is the perfect day to predict what the weather will be as Spring arrives. 

Personally, I believe it is absolutely crazy to think that if an animal sees its shadow then we should believe that the weather will act one way or another. Not to mention, Punxsutawney Phil has a 37% accuracy rate which is horrible. If he is so famous, I would assume he is at least good at what he does but apparently not. This year I was especially concerned about his prediction as he said that there would be six more weeks of winter. As it turned out, the next day there was a high of 50 degrees. 

Even though I cannot trust a groundhog to predict whether or not there will be warmer weather and sunshine, I do appreciate the history and pride that many people take in this little mammal. It is truly fun to see the reaction of all Americans on February 2 when they share if they either think Phil is correct or not. Just because I have never believed him in the past, doesn’t mean I am not anxious for the day when little Punxsutawney Phil is right.