On Wednesday, Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see a shadow, so his prediction should be an early spring. He came out just after dawn, making his 125th annual forecast. Even a small crowd braved the ice to see his prediction. This legend of whether Phil sees his shadow or not comes from a German superstition from the 18th and 19th centuries. Though prior legends didn’t use a groundhog, they used a badger or a sacred bear. There are similarities to the Medieval Catholic holiday and the Pagan Festival of Imbolc. This is the season’s changing point that comes between winter solstice and spring equinox on the Celtic calendar.
The celebration takes place on a tiny hill called Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney. It usually draws in 10,000 to 15,000 people, but with the weather the way it was this year, there was less of a crowd. Although Phil has only been right about 39 percent of the time, thousands of people still go to see him. Out of 114 times, he has seen his shadow 99 times. I’m sure this still gives a lot of people some hope after there has been bad weather across 30 states in the last few days. This is said to be one of the biggest winter storms since the 1950s.
Here in Jamestown, New York, we have had snow storm after snow storm. Today, on Groundhog Day, we are getting sleet and snow, making a terrible, icy mess. We have quite a bit of snow because it hasn’t even melted from it staying cold so long.
It is nice to hear we should have an early spring after all this weather. Some nice sunny days always make people happier and able to enjoy being outside. Every winter we always get cabin fever with snow usually starting in November and ending around March. This year, people are feeling worse with this continuous snow. We all hope this doesn’t continue every year now.
Groundhog Day always reminds me of the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray in it. It teaches you a lesson about life and also to enjoy some superstition. Also, to not let the weather make you feel so miserable and depressed. Phil is supposed to bring some enlightenment to winter and does seem to make a lot of people feel happier. Hopefully this winter hasn’t made too many people feel depressed. Maybe it is a good idea to watch that movie as a reminder during all this winter mess.
Lee Powell, “Punxsutawney Phil Predicts an Early Spring”, www.heraldonline.com
Kurt Moore, “Groundhog Day 2011 Starring Punxsutawney Phil”. www.myfoxorlando.com