This tradition started in Europe as Candlemas Day, during which clergymen would bless the candles they needed for the cold season. (If the candles brought a sunny day, there would be six more weeks of winter; likewise, clouds and rain signified that winter would end soon.). Germans who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s brought the custom to America.
To get in the spirit of Groundhog Day — whether you want six more weeks of winter or not — here are 10 fun facts about the holiday:
• Punxsutawney Phil is the official groundhog forecaster on February 2, but many states have their own (like New York’s Pothole Pete).
• Phil’s full name, granted by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, is Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.
• Groundhogs typically weigh between 12 and 15 pounds; Phil is 22 pounds.
• Groundhogs only live six to eight years, but folklore suggests that Phil sips a magical drink that gives him seven more years of life.
• The Germans originally chose a hedgehog as their animal forecaster. They turned to groundhogs instead when they discovered a large amount of them in Pennsylvania.
• Hibernation is similar to being in a coma. When groundhogs hibernate, their heart rates drop to five beats per minute and they can lose up to 30 percent of their body fat.
• The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club hosts a three-day celebration leading up to Groundhog Day.
• The popular movie of the same name (starring Rockland County resident Bill Murray) gave meaning to the phrase “groundhog day”: to repeat something over and over again.
• Phil’s fans have been able to get text message alerts of his predictions since 2010. (Text “Groundhog” to 247365, in case you’re interested.)
• According to ABCNews, the National Climatic Data Center found that there is no correlation between Phil’s prediction and the actual weather forecast.
So, what’s your prediction? More wintry weather, or blue skies and sunshine? Let us know by writing a comment below.