PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. — Happy Groundhog Day! On this day, Feb. 2, we all look to no other than a groundhog to see if he or she sees its shadow to prognosticate what the rest of winter is going to be like.
Why do we do this?
There are thousands of local groundhogs across the United States such as Queen Charlotte but the first and most famous of course was Phil.
And no we are not talking about Phil Conners.
Since 1887, the U.S. has been looking to Punxsutawney Phil for his prognostication on what the rest of winter will bring. But the reason why we do this is because of superstition and a day called Candlemas Day.
This day celebrates the midpoint of winter but the Germans were responsible for how we celebrate it today in Pennsylvania and the United States.
However, originally in Germany, they used the European Badger as the animal that would cast a shadow or not. Badger Day or Groundhog Day are based on this folklore:
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
winter won't come again
Simply put, if it’s cloudy or there is inclement weather at the midpoint of winter, an animal will NOT cast a shadow.
And according to the superstition, the second half of winter can only get better since the halfway point was so crummy.
But on a beautiful sunny day, an animal WILL cast a shadow. And since it is nice out on this day, it will be followed by a “second winter” or simply six more weeks of winter. Because it can only get worse right? Not necessarily.
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Phil is not a great weatherman
Punxsutawney Phil's success rate since 1887 is quite dismal. He’s only been right 39% of the time and he’s usually pessimistic calling for more winter coming than spring. This year (2022) was the 107th time Phil has called for six more weeks of winter (which no matter the optimism is technically correct when you look at the calendar).
However many of those years he predicted to be more winter-like actually deemed to be mild than what winter should bring (especially in recent years) leaving Phil with the 'L' and a bad average.
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