Next Wednesday, Feb. 2, is Groundhog Day. There are jokes about Groundhog Day, there was a movie called "Groundhog Day" and, of course, there's that little critter in Pennsylvania who tries to predict weather.
Other than having a friend whose birthday is on Groundhog Day and not being a fan of winter, I didn't know much about the history of the event. So I went to a great website called History.com and found the following info:
"On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day was celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.
"Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal — the hedgehog — as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.
"The first official Groundhog Day celebration was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters — known collectively as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club — on the idea. The men trekked to Gobbler’s Knob, where the inaugural groundhog became the bearer of bad news when he saw his shadow.
"Nowadays, the yearly festivities in Punxsutawney are presided over by a band of local dignitaries known as the Inner Circle. Its members wear top hats and conduct the official proceedings in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect."
Poor ol' Punxsutawney Phil, as we have come to know the modern-day rodent forecaster, doesn't have much of a success rate at predicting winter. He only gets it right about half the time. Another hedgehog, known as Staten Island Chuck, is reportedly accurate almost 80 percent of the time.
My bet's on Chuck!