February 2 is Groundhog Day, when people pull a sleepy groundhog out of its burrow to compete with weather forecasters. On this day in 1887, Groundhog Day, was celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, PA. Here are five things you didn't know about this kooky holiday...
It Could Have Been Called Hedgehog Day
Candlemas is a Christian holy day in Germany celebrated on February 2. Legend says that if the sun came out and a hedgehog saw its own shadow, it would deem that it would need to hibernate longer. When German settlers that came to Pennsylvania couldn't find any hedgehogs, they decided that the groundhog was a good substitute. Thus, in America, if the groundhog sees its shadow and goes back in its burrow, winter will continue for six weeks, but if the animal stays out, spring is arriving.
Chances Are Punxsutawney Phil's Prediction Won't Be Accurate Folks at the National Climatic Data Center were curious to know how accurate Phil is at predicting the weather. So they compared temperatures nationwide from 1988 to 2012 to Phil's predictions. It turns out that Phil has only been correct 39 percent of the time. But no matter; a crowd gathers every year to wait with bated breath for Phil to make his annual appearance.
Punxsutawney Phil Has Challengers For His Title
Although Phil is the most famous winter-predicting groundhog, he is not the only furball that townspeople rely for dodgy predictions. In Atlanta, Georgia, those interested in knowing if spring weather is on its way wait for the prediction of their resident groundhog, General Beau Lee. Raleigh, North Carolina, has its own prognosticator in Sir Walter Wally, and Birmingham, Alabama, relies on their own Birmingham Bill.
People Actually Used to Eat Groundhogs on Groundhog Day In 1886, visitors to the big event at Gobbler's Knob, PA, celebrated Groundhog Day with a feast. The feast included not only meat dishes featuring the reportedly delicious meat of groundhogs, but also groundhog punch, which was made of vodka, eggs, milk, orange juice, and other ingredients. Although the groundhog feast has long since disappeared, the punch was remixed into Phil's "Elixir of Life." Apparently, just one sip magically gives him seven more years of life.
"Punxsutawney Phil" Is Only Part of the Groundhog’s Name Punxsutawney Phil, the official groundhog of Groundhog Day, actually has an extremely long and grand name. His full name is Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.