January 30, 2012 • Erin Finley, Editor
Filed under News
** UPDATE** Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. This means there will be six more weeks of winter.
As snow falls and temperatures are low, the general public begins to look forward to spring. The official first day of spring is March 20, but according to the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, the winter weather could last longer or it could be shorter.
History of Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day and the myths surrounding it have been around for centuries. Today’s current groundhog celebration originated from Germany. The Romans brought the tradition to Germany during the conquest of the northern country. The Germans picked up the new tradition and concluded that if the sun appeared on Candlemas Day and an animal cast a shadow, then there would be six more weeks of winter weather.. The animal the Germans used was hedgehog.
The traditions of Groundhog Day were brought to America by Germany immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. They noticed that many groundhogs inhabited the area and they decided that the groundhog was an intelligent creature and it also resembled the hedgehog. Groundhog Day has been celebrated in America ever since.
Punxsutawney Phil is the name given to the famous groundhog that appears every year on Feb. 2. In the early days of this celebration the viewing was private but it has become a large celebration today. Visitors from all over the world wait to see Punxsutawney Phil.
The name Punxsutawney originates from the first celebration on Feb. 2, 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Phil lives in a home at the Punxsutawney Library for the year until he is taken to Gobbler’s Know where he is placed in a “heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on stage.” (www.about.com) He is pulled out of his home at about 7:25 a.m. every Groundhog day.
Punxsutawney Phil’s official name is “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.” (www.helium.com)
A group of townspeople called the Inner Circle are responsible for the care-taking of Phil. Phil also has a mate named Phyllis.
Interesting Facts about Punxsutawney Phil (www.helium.com)
- Phil was the star of a Hollywood movie called Groundhog Day in 1993.
- In 1981 he wore a yellow ribbon commemorating the American hostages in Iran.
- President Reagan met with him in 1986 in Washington, DC.
- He appeared on Oprah Winfrey in 1995.
- Phil’s prognostication was shown live in Times Square, via the JumboTron in New York City.
- A book has been written about various mis-adventures of the real Phil, titled Punxsutawny Phil’s Phollies.
The townspeople of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and the Groundhog Club are in charge of the grand celebration of Groundhog Day each year. Their website is www.groundhog.org The festivities usually last three to four days and include chili cook-offs and ice carving contests.