Most of you know that later this morning Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow and let us know whether spring has arrived in the northeast.

(I’ll pause to let readers in Snow New York stop laughing.)

But here are a few facts about Groundhog Day you might not already know:

1. If you happen to be in Punxsutawney on February 2, you can have breakfast with Phil before the big event.  The groundhog is notoriously close-lipped about his prediction, but rumors suggest he’s not immune to a little bribery.  Spring-lovers take note!

2. Groundhog Day is an outgrowth of Candlemas Day (also known as the Feast of Presentation of the Lord), a religious celebration observed by early Christians (and many modern ones as well) in recognition of the date Jesus was officially presented in the temple.  Popular European  rhymes claimed that if Candlemas was “fair and clear” we would have “two winters in one year,” but that if it stormed on Candlemas spring was about to arrive.  The groundhog connection allegedly came about via German immigrants to the United States, who apparently decided that since groundhogs were among the smarter indigenous animals, a groundhog who saw his shadow on February 2 would scurry back into his hole to wait out the additional weeks of winter.  (No source I located could explain how the Germans thought the groundhogs learned the Candlemas rhymes.  Oh well. I guess you can’t learn everything on the Internet after all.)

3. The Bill Murray film Groundhog Day debuted in 1993 and is ranked #34 on the AFI list of 100 Funniest Movies of All Time.  I’m not sure I agree with that ranking, but I admit the film cracks me up.

4. Phil’s “Inner Circle” claims the groundhog’s predictions prove right “75-90% of the time,” though meteorological data apparently proves that the actual number is closer to 37%. (Good if we’re talking baseball, but statistically a coin toss is correct 1 time in 2.)

Any more facts about the groundhog?  Hop into the comments!  Know nothing about Punxsutawney Phil? Make your own prediction in the comments anyway!

2 thoughts on “GROUNDHOG DAY!

  • February 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    How fun! Today (Feb 3) is my son’s birthday. We didn’t know if he was a boy or a girl so we just called him The Groundhog and joked that if he was born and saw his shadow, he would try to go back “underground” for another six weeks. I’m relieved to say he was born on a cloudy day. Since then, all small children are “goundhogs” to me, and Groundhog Day is one of my favorite holidays. Thanks for your post.

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