Groundhog Day Facts
The first Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2nd, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day comes from an ancient Christian tradition when a candle was used to determine how cold and long the winter would be. Later, the Germans used this concept and chose an animal - the hedgehog - as the meteorologist. The German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition and named the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.
As the animal meteorologist, when Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, he predicts six more weeks of winter. When Phil doesn’t see his shadow, the prediction is that spring is coming early!
Not really. Punxsutawney Phil has been wrong about the weather fifteen times since 1988. Some fans disagree. But we still enjoy the excitement of the holiday anyway.
Groundhog Day Movie
The movie “Groundhog Day” stars Bill Murray as a weatherman who lives the same day over and over again. The idea for the movie came from the holiday and represents something being constantly repeated. The movie has also raised the popularity of Groundhog Day. Since the movie’s release in 1993, huge crowds have visited Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to celebrate.
Groundhog Day Celebration
Groundhog Day is very popular in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Around 40,000 people attend the celebration each year. They gather in a place called Gobbler’s Knob for the ceremony.
More than a dozen states also celebrate Groundhog Day with their own groundhogs. There is Buckeye Chuck in Ohio, Staten Island Chuck, Wiarton Willie of Ottawa, Canada, and Beauregard Lee of Georgia. But they are all imposters!
The groundhog is actually part of the squirrel family called marmots. They are known by many other names, including woodchuck, chuck, groundpig, whistler, Canada marmot, monax, and red monk.
By the time Groundhog Day arrives, most groundhogs will still be in hibernation. The males will begin to come out later in February to travel long distances in search of a mate. The females start to emerge in March.
Phil Meets the President
In 1986, Punxsutawney Phil traveled to Washington, DC to meet President Ronald Reagan.
As of February 2, 2010, fans now are able to register to receive a text alert for the Punxsutawney Phil’s weather prediction.
Phil is Larger Than Normal
The average groundhog is twenty inches long and weighs between twelve to fifteen pounds. But Punxsutawney Phil is twenty-two inches long and weighs twenty pounds.
Typically, a groundhog lives six to eight years. During the Groundhog Picnic every summer, Phil is given “groundhog punch,” which is made from a secret recipe. This punch supposedly adds seven more years to Phil’s life. Currently, Phil is 131 years old!
He Loves Granola Bars
Apparently Phil’s favorite food to eat is oat and honey granola bars.
Punxsutawney has a Groundhog Club Inner Circle that takes care of Phil and helps plan each ceremony. There are currently sixteen members of the Inner Circle and they all have their own individual nicknames.