It’s that time again! Time to gaze towards Pennsylvania and watch a little groundhog scurry out of its den to tell the masses when to expect a break in winter weather and the spring breezes to flow. Yes, a groundhog… predicting the weather. Oh come now, stop laughing! It’s tradition. It’s fun and who doesn’t feel the need for a little fun this far into winter? Come, sit and let’s have a chat about this enduring custom. I’ll bet by the end of our chat, you will be anxiously counting down the days until next Groundhog Day!
History of Groundhog Day
Beginning in 1887 in the United States of America, Groundhog Day has grown in size and scope from its humble beginnings. When the United States made the day an official holiday, Clymer H. Freas was the editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit, a local newspaper in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania. He began to herald the town’s groundhog as the official “Groundhog Day Meteorologist”. Think about it. When you hear about this day who pops to mind?
That’s right! Punxsutawney Phil! Did you know there are countless other groundhogs who take this duty of predicting the weather just as seriously as Phil? Head over to that search engine and check it out! How accurate are these furry weather people? There is some debate over that but for dear old Phil, the professionals say that he is correct about 39% of the time (if it were me, I’d give him the point and say 40% but hey, that’s just my two cents!).
How to Celebrate Groundhog Day
To celebrate the day, you need to understand its finer points. What exactly does Phil do and why is it important? Well, he simply comes out of his den and the sun does the rest. What we are looking for is if he sees his shadow or not. Why is this mean anything? Well if he sees his shadow or not tells of the breaking of winter and the start of spring. According to custom, if the groundhog casts a shadow then we are in for another six weeks of winter weather.
Conversely, if he comes out and it is cloudy and casts no shadow, then spring like weather is on its way. So, I guess the trick is to wish for poor weather on Groundhog Day! To truly celebrate gather the children, make a hearty breakfast and settle in to watch the groundhog emerge. Today most morning news shows will carry the process live and with much pomp and circumstance.
Once you know the result you can joyously make plans – more skiing and snowmen or getting ready to look for those early blooming daffodils and roosting robins! How do you think it will turn out this year? Are you ready for the change of season? When Phil pokes his little nose out if his den and lets us know what to expect, join the rest of us with a hearty cheer! Happy Groundhog Day!