Today February 2, 2013 is not just an ordinary day it is Groundhog Day. Thousands of people listen anxiously for the news to report if this little rodent has seen its shadow. The most famous American ground hog is Punxsutawney Phil named for the town who invented Groundhog Day. According to The Guardian published today, “Thousands gather at Gobbler's Knob in Pennsylvania town for Phil's annual ritual – and the lack of a shadow spells good news. It means winter won’t be around for much longer.” What’s even more remarkable is that a British newspaper is reporting the results.
Albrecht Powell, About.com guide informs us that, “The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper's editor, Clymer Freas: "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow." The legendary first Groundhog Day trip to Gobbler's Knob was made the following year by a group of spirited groundhog hunters who dubbed themselves "The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." Clymer, a member of the club, used his editorial clout to proclaim that Phil, the Punxsutawney Groundhog, was the one and only official weather prognosticating groundhog.”
According to The National Post Jerzy Bohatkiewicz, has gone to the Groundhog Day celebration for the last eight years and he says, “There’s a reason for us to be here, to get out of bed at five in the morning, so we can find each other amongst this crowd here, find a little corner where we can all laugh and cheer and have fun —no matter what.”
Unfortunately, the National Post reports that Canadian groundhogs don’t agree on the weather predictions. “WIARTON, Ont. — Canada’s prognosticating rodents are split on whether the country is in for an early spring or six more weeks of winter. Wiarton Willie, Canada’s most celebrated of all its furry forecasters, is predicting an early spring, siding with Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil — generally regarded as the groundhog of record. Manitoba’s lesser known woodchuck, Winnipeg Willow, also failed to see her shadow when she emerged Saturday morning, meaning she believes spring is around the corner. But Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam and Quebec’s Fred are calling for more cold weather.”
Psychology and meteorology
Psychologically speaking many Americans are relieved there won’t be an additional six weeks of winter. However, scientifically speaking Punxsutawney Phil has no more control over the weather than any of us do. The date chosen for Groundhog Day in America has more scientific backing. February 2 marks the exact mid-point of winter. This day falls between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
That being said, actual weather predictions do not quell the spirits of those who find enjoyment in the February Pennsylvania event. Jen Carfagno, meteorologist with The Weather Channel commented, “It is fascinating how the promise of an early spring or the verdict of six more weeks of winter brings people from all over the world to Punxsutawney, the Weather Capital of the World.”