In the dreadful, slow moving middle of winter, a groundhog is our beacon of hope. On Feb. 2 of each year we rely on this woodland creature to help us prepare for the weeks ahead. So, without further suspense, did the groundhog see its shadow in 2018? You might want to keep the haul of scarves and jackets and hats ... and gloves close to the front door. Punxsutawney Phil spotted his shadow, which unfortunately for us, means we'll have to endure six more weeks of winter weather. Bring on the polar vortex and the bomb cyclone. At least we are already prepared. And honestly, if we've managed to make it this far, we can handle another few weeks of snuggling next to the fireplace with a warm mug of hot chocolate.
It might seem silly, but we have been relying on the shadow — or lack thereof — of a groundhog for many, many, many years. Feb. 2 has been an American tradition for a while. As a refresher, the gist of the groundhog's psychic abilities goes as far as, if he sees his shadow, we must endure six more weeks of winter. But if he fails to see his shadow, we get to relish in an early spring. But honestly, while winter is romantic in its own ways, once February rolls around I am rooting for a few early sprouting dandelions and birds chirping before my alarm even has a chance to go off. Regardless of the outcome, revealing Phil's shadow is an eagerly awaited event once we finally make it out of the seemingly ever expanding month of January.
If you are wondering why Feb. 2 is the chosen staple date for the American tradition that is Groundhog Day, it is because the day falls in the center of the winter and spring solstice. This has relevance dating back to ancient traditions. History.com reports, "Germans developed their own take ... pronouncing the day sunny only if badgers and other animals glimpsed their own shadows. When German immigrants settled Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought the custom with them, choosing the native groundhog as the annual forecaster." And so in 1887 — 1887, people! — the first Groundhog Day was held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to determine how far off the warm weather was.
The gathering isn't just a little town square event. According to TIME, tens of thousands of people show up to await the groundhog's prediction. While other events across the country are held on Feb. 2, the official site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club stands by their Phil saying, "Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just impostors." According to the club, Phil is right "100% of the time." I mean, if I'm going to believe any woodland creature as to how to direct my wardrobe for the following weeks, I'd have to go with a groundhog named Phil.
If you're wondering how this morning's ceremony typically goes down, it's explained by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. Apparently, Punxsutawney Phil has downed an "elixir of life" that allows him to be the only groundhog capable of predicting the weather. I know a few Disney villains who might like to be pointed in the direction of that cocktail. The immortal groundhog then converses with the club's president in a special language called "Groundhogese", which only the president of the club can understand. The president then so kindly translates Phil's prediction to the public and we all either sigh or cheer. Depending on how you look at it.
Happy Groundhog Day!