Underrated Groundhog Day holiday has a deeper history behind the predictions

Madison Elliott, News Editor

Groundhogs Day is on February 2 every year. While the day is not the most popular out of all the holidays, it is quite unique.

Groundhog Day began in the United States on February 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Originally it was a fun idea between businessmen and groundhog hunters until it stuck and became a holiday. The famous groundhog the people are listening to is named Punxsutawney Phil.
These festivities are celebrated by a group of “local dignitaries” who call themselves the Inner Circle. This group of people wear formal attire including top hats while speaking with a Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.
On the morning of, the Inner Circle goes to a location called Gobbler’s Knob where they wait to see if the groundhog sees his shadow. If the groundhog pops up to produce a shadow, then it is said that there will be six more weeks of winter. If there is not a shadow, then spring will arrive early.
The result of the shadow or prediction also has to do with the weather on that day. If the day started as clear and sunny, it meant that people could expect the winter season to last longer and be rough. If the weather were to be cloudy that day, people could expect warm weather to arrive sooner.
The origin story of this day stems from a Christian tradition called Candlemas Day. On this day, candles would be blessed while marking the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
Around the globe, traditions like Groundhog Day are performed similarly. Germans use the element of hedgehogs in place of groundhogs. When the tradition migrated to America, it transitioned to groundhogs.
As fun as this tradition is, to many people it seems pointless. The National Climate Data Center states, “On average, Phil has gotten it right 50% of the time over the past 10 years.”
To keep the magic alive for this day there is a legend that states Punxsutawney Phil is over 125 years old. The magic comes from a potion called the “Elixir of Life.” This is a fun way to add some story behind this day that people may not know.
This year’s celebration was livestreamed by services including NBC, USA Today, YouTube, and other news stations. The results then were posted on social media.
Groundhog Day is a very fun idea. It is something small to look forward to. I enjoy looking at predictions from Punxsutawney Phil to compare against what eventually happens in the year.
Thousands of people tune into this celebration whether they believe in the results or enjoy the tradition for fun, it is intriguing to look forward to the future predictions. This year, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow meaning there will be six more weeks of winter.
Since Phil saw his shadow, temps in our area have fluctuated between warm and cold. While we had spring-like temps on Saturday, it snowed on Saturday night.