YOU ARE HERE: WDBJ7 HomeCollections

Why we celebrate Groundhog Day

Did you know Germans used hedgehogs as the original weather forecaster?

February 02, 2013|Meteorologist Brent Watts
  • Did you know the men in top hats are known as the "Inner Circle." There are 15 members of the inner circle.
Did you know the men in top hats are known as the "Inner Circle." There are 15 members of the inner circle.

Every year at 7:20 AM, Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow to forecast the fate of winter.

The idea of Groundhog day began with the Germans who brought the legend of Candlemas day to the United States. Candlemas Day was a day where clergy in the churches would distrubute candles needed for the long winter months. The candles represented how long and how cold the winter would be.

Later, Germans selected the hedgehog as a means to forecast the weather.

Once the Germans came to America, they continued the tradition. However, they switched to groundhogs because Pennsylvania had so many of them at the time.

The first Groundhog Day celebration dates back to 1857. Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip, but was originally named Briar Groundhog.

The legend says, if Phil sees his shadow at 7:20 AM on Groundhog Day, we'll see 6 more weeks of winter. if Phil doesn't see his shadow, Spring is sure to come soon.


Of course this is all in fun. Just don't tell Phil.

Here's a few facts from

126:The number of times Punxsutawney Phil has predicted the weather, as of Feb. 2, 2012.

100%: Accuracy rate of Punxsutawney Phil, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

39%: Accuracy rate of Punxsutawney Phil according to Stam Zervanos, a professor emeritus of biology at Pennsylvania State University, Berks College, who has studied groundhog hibernation.

• 60: Number of weeks of winter Punsatawney Phil threatened to impose on America during Prohibition, if he wasn’t allowed a drink.

25+: Number of alternative groundhogs across North America — though none is as famous as Punxsutawney Phil. Other groundhogs include “Sutton Sammy” in Ontario, “Chuckles” of Manchester, Conn., “Shubenacadie Sam” in Nova Scotia, “Staten Island Chuck,” and “General Beauregard Lee,” of Lilburn, Ga.

8:30 a.m.: February 2, 8:30 a.m. to be precise. Potential debut of Potomac Phil, D.C.’s first weather-predicting groundhog. Resident Aaron DeNu is searching for a live groundhog by Thursday to become Potomac Phil (He’s already procured a stuffed groundhog, but is unsure of how a stuffed groundhog would be able to see its own shadow). Potomac Phil will predict the length of winter in D.C.’s Dupont Circle.

49: Number of states that celebrate Groundhog Day. Because there are few groundhogs in Alaska, the state celebrates Marmot Day. The 2009 bill that declared Feb. 2 Marmot Day was signed by then-governor Sarah Palin.

7 years: Number of years Punxsutawney Phil’s life is extended each time he drinks a “magical elixir” given to him by the Punxsutawney Inner Circle. That is how the Punxsutawney groundhog Club says that Phil has been able to outlive the normal six-to-eight-year lifespan of a groundhog.

38: Number of days depicted in the movie “Groundhog Day” either partially or in full.

3,176: Number of days that Bill Murray’s character spent trapped in Groundhog Day in the eponymous movie, according to blogger wolfgnards.

12,403: Number of days that Bill Murray’s character spent trapped in Groundhog Day, according to blogger Simon Gallagher in WhatCulture.

2: Number of times a groundhog bit Bill Murray’s fingers during the filming of the movie.

wdbj7 Articles