Why do we have Groundhog Day?
Meteorologists can take the day off, because Groundhog Day is upon us. We rely on Phil Punxsutawney, the official groundhog of America, to forecast harsh winters or rapidly approaching springs, but this year, the results have been mixed. This morning, Phil woke up and saw his shadow, declared more Winter to come, and went back into hiding. Many forecasters are saying Phil changed his mind when the sun came out, to which he declared Spring instead.
The first Groundhog Day occurred in 1887 and was based off the past Christian tradition called Candlemas day, which marks the midpoint between winter solstice & spring Equinox. Christian clergymen distributed candles to the people for warmth and estimated the forthcoming winter or spring based on the temperature of the day. If it was sunny, winter would come. If it was cloudy and cold, spring had sprung. Germans adopted the tradition, but oddly used hedgehogs instead of candles to decipher the future weather.
In time, Germans settled in America and wanted to continue this bizarre tradition, but there were no hedgehogs to be found. Settlers decided that groundhogs possessed enough of the same qualities as hedgehogs to predict the weather, and the rest was history. Nowadays, if the groundhog comes out of his hole and sees he shadow there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, it means there will be an early spring.
Today, Phil is the official groundhog of America and many are convinced that he is the only one with weather forecasting abilities. However, there are other groundhogs for specific states across the nation. For example, other states with groundhogs currently are Tennessee, Virginia, and Connecticut.
Phil lives in Gobbler’s Knob and visitors will come from all over the nation to see this long-standing tradition take place in the flesh. On Groundhog Day at Gobbler’s Knob, residents celebrate with each other for this strange observational event. There is even a three-day celebration full of entertainment, food and activities. Additionally, the governor of Pennsylvania attends the annual event.
San Diego doesn’t do well in harsh winters, so thank goodness he changed his mind this year.