I find it difficult these days to find topics that have nothing to do with the ugliness of politics and today’s news headlines. So, when a carefree event comes along, I like to take advantage of it’s positive nature and escape from the heaviness of today.
How about some interesting facts on Groundhog’s Day? In case you missed it, Phil predicted six more weeks of winter; Staten Island Chuck predicted early spring.
- The first Groundhog’s Day was February 2, 1887. Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The Rodent Club takes care of Phil and the Groundhog Day ceremony.
- German immigrants in Pennsylvania started the tradition. As immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania, they noticed that rodents began to come out of hibernation to forage for food or to mate. They used this to mark the ending of winter and the coming of spring.
- Germans used to use hedgehogs for predicting an early spring, but the abundance of groundhogs in Pennsylvania made them change.
- Germans use to dine on groundhogs for Groundhog Day. I cannot imagine that groundhogs make the best meal, but as people became attached to Punxsutawney Phil that tradition died off.
- Phil’s predictions have only been accurate 39% of the time. The lesser-known Staten Island Chuck fares better, with an 80% accuracy. I think I’ll put my money on Chuck!
- Groundhog Day is not the only thing that makes February 2nd significant. Celts celebrate a Pagan festival, Imbolc, marking the end of winter and the start of spring. Imbolc evolved into the Christian’s Candlemas, when Jesus was presented at holy temple in Jerusalem. A sunny Candlemas meant 40 more days of snow and cold weather. (I suppose that means early spring really depends on where you live. In dreary Sullivan County, NY, it was cloudy.)
- Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, live for about eight years, but Phil drinks a magical elixir every summer that keeps him going. They also weigh on average 12-15 pounds; Phil weighs in at 22 pounds. If the first Groundhog Day was 1887, then that makes Phil 134 years old! Looks like the Pennsylvania Rodent Club has found the fountain of youth, and it must be a weight-gainer!
- Phil met President Ronald Reagan in Washington, DC in 1986.
- PETA suggested in 2010, and again in 2020, that a robot groundhog be used instead of a live groundhog. HAAHAA!
- You can now get a text alert on Phil’s predictions. Text “Groundhog” to 247365 if you’re interested.