Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter

Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter

Heeseo Yoon, Staff Writer

It is the morning of February 2nd. People are crowding around a platform. On the platform are men, fully dressed in black coats and hats, gathering around a wooden box. The crowd buzzes with excitement as one of the men pulls something out from the box – a groundhog! The crowd roars as the man holds up the groundhog. The men gather around the box in a circle, and the crowd instantly goes silent, waiting for the verdict. Tension flows through the crowd. Silence stretches on for what seems like eternity until the men straighten up. One man pulls out a scroll, and silent drum rolls play through the spectators’ minds. Will winter continue, or will it finally become spring?

Last Wednesday, Punxsutawney Phil declared that winter will continue for six more weeks. You might be wondering, what does a groundhog have to do with predicting the seasons? Well, on Groundhog Day, groundhogs have everything to do with the seasons. They are the forecasters to whether winter will continue, or whether spring will finally come. 

This tradition officially started in Pennsylvania in 1887. The idea of predicting a new season came from Christianity. History.com states that Christians believed that if the weather was clear during Candlemas, there would be 40 more days of winter. Germans took inspiration from this tradition and added their own twist, using badgers to predict the upcoming weather. As many Germans settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th Century, they carried this tradition with them. They chose the groundhog as the animal for the rituals, since they considered groundhogs to be more intelligent and special when compared to other animals. According to The Official Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Website, the groundhog used for the ritual was named Punxsutawney Phil after their town and “King Philip.” Nobody knows who exactly King Philip was, but facts like these are better to be left mysterious. Thus, Groundhog Day was established as a tradition. 

Groundhog Day is carried out every February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Every Groundhog Day, the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club directs the event. These are the selected group members that are in charge of carrying out the Groundhog Day ceremony. For the occasion, they dress in tuxedos and top hats. Then, Punxsutawney Phil is placed in a small box and carried onto the platform. The ceremony starts airing as early as 6:00 a.m., but officially begins at 7:20 a.m. Then, Punxsutawney Phil is let out of the box. If he is able to see its shadow, it means that winter will continue for the next six weeks. If it is not able to see its shadow, it means that spring will come. After he makes his prediction, the Inner Circle declares the results in the name of Punxsutawney Phil. 

There are many suspicions regarding the annual Groundhog ceremony. For example, there are rumors that before the event, the Inner Circle makes their prediction by checking the forecast. However, they themselves insist that Punxsutawney Phil tells them the results in “Groundhogese.” Quite suspicious, isn’t it? The Official Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Website also claims that the same groundhog—Punxsutawney Phil—has been predicting since 1997. This may all sound ridiculous, but honestly, it works the same way as Santa giving out presents for Christmas. It is a secret that everyone sees through, yet chooses not to contradict.

Obviously, there is no scientific evidence that backs up Groundhog Day, not to mention the suspicious parts to it. Even though there’s no guarantee that the predictions will come true, judging by the weather these days, Punxsutawney Phil may be right. Most importantly, Groundhog Day is an annual tradition that has been upheld  since the 18th Century, a national celebration that can get people excited and happy for the day. Who cares about logic when it lets people forget about their hardships for even a few seconds? When you feel down in the following years, remember that there is a celebration that you can look forward to in February. Happy (belated) Groundhog Day!