Yep, we're bummed, Phil saw his shadow today and predicts six more weeks of winter...but how did this Groundhog Day thing get started?!
It actually derived from a holiday the German settlers brought in the 1700s called Candleman’s Day.
Candleman’s Day: In the dark of winter, clergy would bless candles and distribute them to people to place in every window of their homes. If the sun came out on February 2nd, halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.
The Delaware Indians settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in 1723 and they considered groundhogs honorable ancestors following the Indian legend of their ancestral grandfather “Wojak, the groundhog.”
When the German settlers came they combined their traditional Candleman’s Day and the natives’ love for the groundhog. Traditionally the Germans watched a badger to cast a shadow.
February 4, 1841 - from Morgantown, Berks County (Pennsylvania) storekeeper James Morris' diary..."Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."
Reference: Stormfax, The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College
This annual groundhog tradition has continued for 130 years with only nine years of no data. Since records began in 1887, the groundhog has seen his shadow 103 times (forecasting a longer winter), while reporting no shadow 18 times (forecasting an early spring). Unfortunately, Punxsutawney Phil’s winter prediction is correct only 39% of the time - I'll go ahead and call him a pretty bad meteorologist - but it sure is a cute tradition!
Fun fact: Although they claim there is only one Punxsutawney Phil, groundhogs live roughly 10 years on average so there have been anywhere from 15 to 20 groundhogs used for Phil.
Well today, February 2nd, 2018, Phil saw his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter. Good luck and stay warm out there!