What you never knew about Groundhog Day

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Jennifer Bennett
jbennett49@radford.edu

Does anyone else find it funny and kind of strange that every year we expect a groundhog to come out of its hole and predict the weather for the next six weeks? Why do we as humans believe that a groundhog seeing its shadow or not seeing its shadow means that there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring? Here are some facts about Groundhog Day that you might not have known.

Feb. 2, 1887 was the first year that Groundhog Day was celebrated in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day’s origin is from ancient Christian tradition. At first, this celebration used hedgehogs instead of groundhogs. When the Germans came to the United States, they decided to change the animal to the groundhog.

The name of this infamous weather-predicting groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil. While this groundhog is by far the most famous, other locations have the same idea and use other groundhogs in different parts of the United States.

I find it interesting that there are people who are willing to travel thousands of miles just to see an animal come out of its hole. I think that there is something kind of beautiful in that honestly. Everyone coming together for something like this and all of us believing that it can really tell the future for the next six weeks.

This tradition even has a movie made out of it called “Groundhog Day.” It is used in a different kind of way, however. In this movie it talks about how a day is repeated over and over again and how the same thing happens to the main character every time.

Phil has a 39 percent chance of being right according to what has happened in the past. Overall, it is more common for him to see his shadow than to not see his shadow.

Again, all of this is folklore that is not to be taken too seriously. I think it is a fun tradition to just see if what the groundhog predicts will happen correlates with what actually happens. Either way, Radford University weather is very hard to predict because it goes from freezing cold to really warm in one day.

If the predictions are right, then this year is supposed to bring an early spring. Honestly, I am not sure if I believe this. Weather during this time and especially this place is too random to work with the folklore. I find it funny how some people seem to take the predictions of a groundhog seriously when there are many times where meteorologists are wrong, and many times that is not their fault. I do not know how we expect a groundhog to have a more accurate prediction of the weather than a meteorologist, but it definitely is an interesting concept.

Now you know a little bit more about this holiday and what it means if he does or does not see his show. So now you decide. Do you believe in Punxsutawney Phil and the age-old Groundhog Day tradition?