Today is Groundhog Day, and I’m sure Punxsutawney Phil, the eternal groundhog from Pennsylvania, is anxious to reveal his weather prediction! Will he see his shadow? That means we’re stuck with six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, we luck out with an early spring. The tradition dates back to 1887 to European weather lore in which a badger or sacred bear predicts the weather, rather than a groundhog. It also has religious origins, as it shares similarities with Candlemas Day, which is also on Feb. 2. According to an old English song, “If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight.”
Here are five facts you probably didn’t know about Groundhog Day:
1. Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow 97 times, has not seen it 15 times, and nine years are unaccounted for.
2. The National Climatic Data Center reportedly stated that Phil’s prediction’s have been correct 39 percent of the time. This number is in conflict with Phil’s club, which states he’s been right 100 percent of the time.
3. According to the funny website groundhog.org, there’s a legend that during Prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn’t allowed a drink.
4. In the years following the release of Groundhog Day, a 1993 film starring Bill Murray, crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill in Punxsutawney where the ceremony takes place.
5. Though groundhogs typically live only six to eight years, Groundhog Day lore suggests that Phil drinks a magic elixir every summer, which gives him seven more years of life.
If you want to celebrate with your kiddos, groundhog.org has some fun ideas in the ‘teacher’ section for activities.