Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a great holiday where you can enjoy the seasons. Infographic created by Alice Zhang
Groundhog Day is a great holiday where you can enjoy the seasons. Infographic created by Alice Zhang

People arrive at Gobbler’s Knob, Pennsylvania at 3:00 a.m. to watch fireworks, listen to music, and watch live entertainment.  Some may ask, why be anywhere but in your bed at 3:00 a.m.? But this event is special. After all, it’s Punxsutawney Phil’s special day–Groundhog Day.

Every year, on February 2nd, crowds flock to Gobbler’s Knob, Pennsylvania to see the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, predict when spring will come. Legend says that if a groundhog comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, he will take that as six more weeks of bad weather and winter, then return to his hole. However, if he doesn’t see his shadow, he regards it as a sign of spring and stays above the ground.

Candlemas Day, which is celebrated between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, inspired Groundhog Day. During Candlemas, the clergy, the leaders of a church, blessed candles and handed them out so people could light them in the windows of their homes to help ward off the gloom of mid-winter. The celebrators believed that if Candlemas Day had fair weather, it was an omen for a cold and stormy second half of winter. However, if the day was dark and blustery, spring would be coming soon. Candlemas Day and Groundhog Day both emphasize the importance of the weather on a specific day. Groundhog Day first gained its popularity in the U.S. in 1887 when Clymer H. Freas, an editor for Punxsutawney Spirit publicized Punxsutawney Groundhog as the official groundhog weather forecaster. Other newspapers picked the story up, and soon, the entire nation started depending on Punxsutawney Phil to predict when spring would come.

Many people are skeptical about Phil’s accuracy despite the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s assertion that Phil’s weather predictions are always precise. “Groundhog Day is very inaccurate. Spring will come whether the Groundhog sees his shadow or not,” 7th grader Sruthi Ilangovan says. However, she says: “I think Phil will see his shadow, because the sun is out. Spring will come soon though, because there’s sunshine.”

Although Groundhog Day isn’t as widely celebrated as Halloween or Independence Day, it is still a fun and silly holiday that anyone can enjoy. Bake some cookies or look at cute pictures of groundhogs in honor of Punxsutawney Phil. Even though not everyone believes that this unique groundhog’s weather predictions are accurate, we can still embrace our inner five year-old and celebrate an amusing holiday.