Groundhog Day Is Scurrying Towards Us


Punxsutawney Phil

Noah Fry, Author

Groundhog Day 2019 is approaching. While Groundhog Day may seem like a fun tradition, it’s more than just a groundhog seeing its shadow.

February 2nd celebrates the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The Celts celebrated the day as Imbolc, a pagan festival to celebrate the beginning of spring. Imbolc evolved into Candlemas when Christianity started spreading through Europe. Candlemas is a feast celebrating the presentation of Jesus at the holy temple in Jerusalem. Christians thought that they would have 40 days more of winter if Candlemas was sunny. Germans created their own spin on the holiday. The day was sunny when badgers and small animals could see their shadows. German immigrants brought the tradition to Pennsylvania and chose the groundhog as the annual forecaster.

Clymer Freas proposed the idea of Groundhog day to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The first Groundhog Day took place in 1887 at Punxsutawney, PA. The club went to Gobbler’s Knob to see if the groundhog saw his shadow. Currently, a group called the Inner Circle conducts Groundhog Day and uses a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil. Groundhog Day is now held annually on February 2nd in Punxsutawney.

Fun Facts:

  • Punxsutawney Phil is only 40% accurate
  • The Staten Island Chuck is 70% accurate
  • Vermillion, OH uses the woolly bear caterpillar as a forecaster
  • A legend states that Punxsutawney Phil is more than 125 years old