Punxsutawney Phil and 100 years of Groundhog Day

Punxsutawney Phil and 100 years of Groundhog Day
Posted at 9:24 AM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 15:45:50-05

(RNN) - Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow and doom us to another Bomb Cyclone this winter season?  

North America's most famous groundhog is expected to return from slumber on Feb. 2, to continue the tradition of Groundhog Day which dates back to our country's earliest days.

The lore was adapted from Candlemas Day, a Christian tradition where people received blessings and received candles needed for frigid winters. The length of the candles represented how long the winters would last.

Europeans later adapted this tradition to include animals like hedgehogs and badgers.

Germans settlers to Pennsylvania continued the tradition and switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which are common in the state.

Groundhog Day was first celebrated at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney in 1887 when a newspaper editor anointed Phil, a groundhog, as America’s weather-forecasting groundhog.

The tradition states if a groundhog comes out of its hole on the specified day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. No shadow means there will be an early spring.

Other towns across the North America have adopted their own animals to bring in the tradition.

Staten Island Chuck, North Carolina’s Sir Wally Wally and Shubenacadie Sam from Canada are just a few to name.

Groundhogs, also called woodchucks, are part of the rodent family and generally weigh 12 to 15 pounds.

The animals go into hibernation in the fall. In February, male groundhogs emerge from the ground to look for mates before returning underground again. Groundhogs come out of hibernation in March.

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