Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil – everything you never wanted to know about the rodent’s meteorology skills and beyond

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When Punxsutawney Phil comes out of the ground every February 2nd to look for his shadow, we all stop what we're doing and await his announcement on  the edge of our seats with bated breath.

An early spring or six more weeks of winter? Tell us, Phil! Tell us! We must know!

This year - no shadow! Come on, spring!

After all, the rodent has a 39% accuracy rate, so who better to trust, right?

Okay, wait. How in the world did this tradition become a thing?

Well, way back on February 2nd, 1886, the first recorded Groundhog Day, some German settlers in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania thought it would be neat to carry on the German tradition of looking for hibernating animals, waking up and scurrying out of the woods, which signifies an early spring.

In Europe, they looked for animals like bears or badgers.  Here in the U.S., the lucky groundhog was their mammal of choice.

More mind-blowing Groundhog Day facts:

  • Phil has a top hat-wearing entourage of 15 members called the "Inner Circle." They have super cool titles like Thunder Conductor, Iceman, and His Protector.
  • The Inner Circle translates Phil's "Groundhogese" forecast into English and announces his prediction to the masses.
  • Phil is a national celebrity but several other states have their own local groundhogs, like Georgia's General Beauregard Lee, Buckeye Chuck in Ohio, Pothole Pete in New York, and Jimmy in Wisconsin, who bit the mayor's ear!
  • Phil is hip with the times. He's even got his own Facebook page and Twitter account.
  • The holiday is called Groundhog Day, not Groundhog's Day.
  • Phil's real name is" Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinaire."
  • A groundhog is also called a woodchuck or a whistle pig.
  • The 1993 movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, was actually filmed in Illinois, yet brought tens of thousands of fans to Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
  • The animal rights group PETA has suggested using a robotic groundhog in place of Phil.
  • Even though tradition claims Phil is "immortal" and has never been replaced over the past 130 years by new groundhogs (wink, wink,) the typical life span of a healthy groundhog is ten years.
  • February 2nd is the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, which is also Candlemas Day, a day in which early Christians believed that if the sun came out, winter would last another six weeks.