© Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce
Did Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow today?
The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:
February 4, 1841 - from Morgantown, Berks County (Pennsylvania) storekeeper James Morris' diary..."Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."
According to the old English saying:
If Candlemas be
fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.
For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
And from America:
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.
If the sun
shines on Groundhog Day;
Half the fuel and half the hay.
If the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of Winter. Germans watched a badger for the shadow. In Pennsylvania, the groundhog, upon waking from mid-Winter hibernation, was selected as the replacement.
Pennsylvania's official celebration of Groundhog Day began on February 2nd, 1886 with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper's editor, Clymer Freas: "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow." The groundhog was given the name "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary'' and his hometown thus called the "Weather Capital of the World.'' His debut performance: no shadow - early Spring.
The legendary first trip to Gobbler's Knob was made
the following year.
The groundhog, also known as a woodchuck (Marmota monax), is a member of the squirrel family. Groundhogs in the wild eat succulent green plants,
such as dandelion, clover, and grasses.
According to handler Bill Deeley, a local funeral director, Phil weighs 15 pounds and thrives on dog
food and ice cream in his climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library.
Up on Gobbler's Knob, Phil is placed in a heated
burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on stage before being pulled out at 7:25 a.m. to make his prediction.
The groundhog's seasonal forecasting accuracy is somewhat low.
Phil's Winter prognostications have been correct only 39% of the time.