According to traditional folklore, the actions of a certain groundhog on February 2nd determines the arrival of spring every year. If it is cloudy when the groundhog emerges from his dark underground habitat, the spring season will arrive early. However, if it is sunny and he spies his shadow and retreats into his burrow, winter weather will persist for an additional six weeks.
The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with a groundhog named “Punxsutawney Phil”. The first documented American reference to Groundhog Day can be found in a diary entry, dated February 4, 1841, by Morgantown, Pennsylvania, storekeeper James Morris:
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.
Groundhog Day was adopted in the U.S. in 1887. Clymer H. Freas was the editor of the local paper, Punxsutawney Spirit at the time, and he began promoting the town’s groundhog as the official “Groundhog Day meteorologist”.
Groundhog Day, already a widely recognized and popular tradition, received widespread attention as a result of the 1993 comedy movie “Groundhog Day”, now considered an American comedy classic. The movie depicts an arrogant TV weatherman named Phil inexplicably caught in a time loop, forced to live the same February 2nd, Groundhog Day, over and over again until he gains insight that changes his life for the better. In 2006, the film was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Groundhog.org is the official site of the Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania Groundhog Club, and includes a detailed history of the day, how to start a Phil’s Club chapter in your town, and a listing of local celebratory events, including a Gobbler’s Knob Got Talent show held at the Punxsutawney Community Center, with a grand prize of $500. The Grand Prize Winner is determined on Groundhog Day morning by the crowd at Gobbler’s Knob.
Whether you spend the day celebrating in Punxsutawney, or cuddle up and watch the movie, we hope you have a memorable Groundhog Day 2017!