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More winter? The groundhog says…

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil. This was the 126th celebration of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pa.

Yes!

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A huge crowd gathered at Gobbler’s Knob, the tiny hill from which Phil makes his prediction on Feb. 2.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club made their decree Thursday morning in central Pennsylvania: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, and there’ll be six more weeks of winter. The announcement was met with boos from the enormous crowd gathered in Punxsutawney.

Folks in the East and elsewhere gave a collective shrug, as temperatures have been unseasonably warm. "But it’s the winter we’ve been having, so that’s like spring anyway," said Matt Lauer on TODAY after the news broke.

"The daffodils are already in bloom in NW Mississippi," wrote Jackie Barnes Garrett on TODAY’s Facebook page, where hundreds of people are weighing in. "We are already fighting mosquitoes and flies."

"Yesterday it was almost 60 degrees in Iowa," wrote Facebook commenter Letha Ann Alexander. But Sara LaPoint, from Colorado, has seen enough of this season. "I am SO done with snow and winter!" she wrote.

The Associated Press reported that the groundhog has seen his shadow 99 times since 1886; he’s not seen it only 16 times, according to the Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle (there are no records for the remaining years, according to the AP). Though Phil gets all the credit, it’s 15 members of the Inner Circle who decide the news in advance.

And not everyone believes the hype. "Punxsutawney Phil is a punk when it comes to weather forecasting," wrote veteran meteorologist Tim McGill on the Chicago Weather Center blog. McGill, who has covered 26 years of Phil predictions, said most weather experts "dread Groundhog Day." (For good measure, he ended his post with a recipe for woodchuck stew).

But Mike Johnston, vice president of the Inner Circle, told the AP that Phil has "never been wrong." The reason is simple, he said: Phil can’t err, because he never applies his prognostication to a specific place. "I guarantee you someone’s going to have six more weeks of winter," he said.

Ground Hog Day

Short history of Ground Hog Day… not quite like the movie (Groundhog Day):

In 1723, the Delaware Indians settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a campsite halfway between the Allegheny and the Susquehanna Rivers. The town is 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, at the intersection of Route 36 and Route 119. The Delawares considered groundhogs honorable ancestors. According to the original creation beliefs of the Delaware Indians, their forebears began life as animals in "Mother Earth" and emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men.

    The name Punxsutawney comes from the Indian name for the location
    "ponksad-uteney" which means "the town of the sandflies."
    The name woodchuck comes from the Indian legend of "Wojak,
    the groundhog" considered by them to be their ancestral grandfather.

When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day, which has an early origin in the pagan celebration of Imbolc. It came at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition held that if the weather was fair, the second half of Winter would be stormy and cold. For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of Winter. A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home. The day’s weather continued to be important. If the sun came out February 2, halfway between Winter and Spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.

The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:

    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."

Groundhog Day and more animal news:
Punxsutawney Phil stuffs the competition
The origins of 13 enduring superstitions
Punxsutawney Phil and 7 other animals who predict the future
Will and Kate’s new puppy breed revealed!
Elephant fitted with giant contact to heal injured eye

h/t to Amy DiLuna, TODAY.com senior editor, doesn’t know from weather, but thinks that furry little meatball Phil is adorable and to Stormfax

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February 2, 2012 - Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Holidays With Pets, Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side | , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. […] More winter? The groundhog says… […]

    Pingback by Odds and Ends | askmarion | February 3, 2012 | Reply

  2. […] Groundhog Day 2012 […]

    Pingback by In Addition to the Super Bowl… Today Was Groundhog Day « JustOneMorePet | February 3, 2014 | Reply

  3. […] Groundhog Day 2012 […]

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