Six more weeks of winter, and a look back at why a groundhog tells us so

Wesley Leblanc

A groundhog. (Not necessarily Punxatawney Phil.)
A groundhog. (Not necessarily Punxatawney Phil.)

Every year, we divert our attention from our phone’s weather app or the meteorologist on tv to observe something a little more traditional: a groundhog.

If you’re not aware, today is Groundhog’s Day, which means we patiently awaited the rise of a groundhog — in this case, the legendary (as legendary as a groundhog can get) Punxsutawney Phil — from his burrow early this morning. If Phil were to emerge from his burrow and see his shadow, the tradition dictates that we would have another six weeks of winter on our hands. If Phil’s shadow was not visible, we’d get a jumpstart on spring.

This tradition dates back to a time close to Jesus Christ’s birthday. Originally known as Candlemas, this practice was more akin to a festival. The clergy of the area would bless candles and pass them out to people. On Feb. 2, those celebrating would observe the skies. If it was sunny, the people would begin preparation for a longer winter. If the skies were cloudy, warmer weather was on its way.

The introduction of a groundhog, and in turn, the loosening of the day’s religious ties, came on Feb. 2, 1887 and has been a part of the tradition ever since.

So, what can we expect this year?

Well, according to Punxsutawney Phil, who indeed saw his shadow, six more weeks of winter.



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