Today is February 2, which means it is Groundhog Day – the American tradition that started over 130 years ago where Punxsutawney Phil delivers his “prognostication” on whether an early spring is due, or winter will continue for six more weeks.
As he emerged from his burrow, he did not see his shadow, so, as legend has it, spring will arrive soon. Had he seen his shadow, it would have meant six more weeks of winter.
“Spring will be early, it’s a certainty,” Punxsutawney Phil’s top hat-wearing inner circle proclaimed.
But, for us here in D.C., receiving the news from Pennsylvania’s favorite groundhog this year isn’t as exciting, considering that this winter has been the 5th hottest on record for the area.
The tradition started in Europe as “Candlemas Day.” Germans brought the tradition with them when they settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. February 2, 1886 was Pennsylvania’s first official Groundhog Day celebration.
Arguably the most popular rodent in America, Punxsutawney Phil has met with past Presidents, and even made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1995.
Punxsutawney Phil isn’t the only Groundhog predicting warmer weather soon. At the Staten Island Zoo in New York, “Staten Island Chuck” didn’t see his shadow, either. Chuck has a prediction success rate of nearly 80 percent, according to the Staten Island Zoo website.