Take one fat and adorable groundhog in a town of Punxsutawney, call him Phil, take good care of him and the missus, and every February 2 he would emerge from his burrow and predict the weather. This year, 2021, Punxsutawney Phil did indeed see his shadow, and that means that we are to expect six more weeks of winter.
I love this “holiday,” as well as all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds it. You have several grown men who don formal clothing, including top hats, and treat this day as a truly magical rite of winter. It is my pleasure to wish all I see a “Happy Groundhog Day!” But I have a bit of trouble understanding this day. Internet to the rescue.
This “holiday” stems from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that states if the groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks, but if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early. Studies have shown no consistent correlation between a groundhog seeing its shadow and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather.
What makes it strange this year is that Punxsutawney Phil stuck its head out into the cloudy, snowy day and still managed to see its shadow. What makes it strange every year is, pretty much, the entire spectacle. There are incantations. Rituals. Traditions.
United States and Canada celebrate Groundhog Day. It’s good to know that our neighbors to the North can be as silly as we are.
When did we begin to do this? When did we leave our weather prognosticating to an overgrown rodent? On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day was celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. I believe that we should celebrate pretty much everything that comes from a place called “Knob.” And we should call people we love, when we’re angry at them, knobs. Try it (in your head first). It’s actually kind of fun. Knob. Ha ha.
How accurate is Phil, really? About 35 to 40 percent accurate. Basically, as accurate as your average meteorologist here in Colorado (or flipping a coin). Our problem predicting weather in Colorado is the Rocky Mountains. Because there is a mountain range in the way of the weather, which usually comes in from the west or the northwest, it can go weirdly once it hits the Continental Divide. There are several things weather can do coming over the Divide — it can dissipate, it can intensify and create one of those record-making blizzards, or it can pass completely unchanged. Basically, your guess is as good as mine, or our guess is as good as a groundhog, or a weather forecaster.
All right, I know that Groundhog Day was earlier this week. But as with everything else, it is going to come around again, though probably not like the movie Groundhog Day. An excellent movie, by the way …