Let’s talk about Groundhog Day.
We all know and love the 1993 movie and use it to reference the repetitive nature of our daily lives. But seeing the little dot on my Calendar this year, I realized I didn’t actually know why we predict the arrival of spring with a small, furry rodent in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
After a quick google search, I’ve learned that like many of our more absurdist traditions, the weather predicting groundhog Phil got his job through an old Christian tradition brought to America by German immigrants. In ancient Christianity, it was believed that if there was a clear sky on Candlemas Day there would be cold weather ahead. At some point, the theory shifted to being determined by the shadow of an animal coming out of hibernation: if the animal cast a shadow, winter would last for six more weeks whereas no shadow meant an early spring.
Originally a hedgehog was used, but, of course, Pennsylvania happens to have an abundance of groundhogs, so the adjustment was made. Finally, in 1887 a newspaper editor and member of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that their groundhog Phil was the top weather predictor in the country and became the legend he is today. Now in 2017, there have been many generations of Phil, but the mystery and traditions around him have only grown.
The Club’s Inner Circle members care for the hibernating celebrity, dress in top hats and tuxedos, and their president actually translates each year’s prediction from ‘Groundhogese’ into English for the rest of us to understand. Regardless of how much you believe in the lore, thousands of people flood to Gobbler’s Knob every year on February 2nd.
If you’re interested in making the trip this year, check out this handy guide before making travel plans:
Kira Kull is a proud member of The Vigon Team at Citi Habitats and Theatre creator living in New York City.
To contact Kira, call:
(415) 847 - 6787
387 Park Avenue South, 4th Floor
Citi Habitats - (212) 253 - 5789