Groundhog Day 2020 is Punxsutawney Phil’s 134th prognostication! It has turned into a time for the country to either be happy or be mad with a rodent. Legend has it, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter are headed our way. If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, supposedly spring will come early.
Background: The groundhog tradition comes from Candlemas Day with early Christians in Europe. Clergy would bless candles and pass them to the people. An old English song says similar things to our current groundhog statements:
Supposedly, the Romans brought this tradition to the Germans that concluded if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal would cast a shadow, thus predicting more winter.
Since Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans and they found groundhogs to resemble the European hedgehog, the tradition moves to groundhogs in America.
First Celebration: The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club credits The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper with printing the first observance in 1886 followed the next year by the first trek to Gobbler’s Knob.
What about Phil? According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's website, Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long. The club also notes that there has been only one Phil, crediting his longevity to drinking a secret "groundhog punch" every summer at the Groundhog Picnic. The brew adds seven years to Phil's life every summer, according to legend.
How accurate is Phil? Before this year, Phil has seen his shadow 104 times since 1887 and did not see his shadow 19 times. The other years have not been accounted for, the club said.
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