Punxsutawney Phil Predicts an Early Spring

| February 2, 2019

punxsutawney-phil-groundhog-day-crowd-PennLive-2PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT) – Punxsutawney Phil greeted festival-goers with some good news on Saturday morning when the world’s most famous groundhog predicted an early Spring after not seeing his shadow.

Members of the “Inner Circle” announced the furry rodent’s official “forecast” around 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Gobbler’s Knob.

Groundhog Day, celebrated annually on February 2, is based on a legend that traverses centuries. Its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives.

Tradition in Germany was to look to the hedgehog on February 2 to judge by its behavior the coming weather. German settlers to Pennsylvania brought this belief with them but found no hedgehogs here. They did, however, find an abundance of groundhogs, and a new tradition was born.

The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated in Punxsutawney, PA, in 1887. It was that day that the groundhog first came out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.

According to tradition, if he sees his shadow, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole. However, if the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

The groundhog tradition stems from the German tradition and other similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day (February 2) and the days of early Christians in Europe. For centuries, the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

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