Each winter, the quaint town of Punxsutawney, PA is host to thousands of visitors. For those of you who missed the two hour wait in line for the 3:00—6:00 AM shuttle to Gobblers Knob, let me fill you in. Yep, that furry little marmot, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow—again. And being easily alarmed, likely due to those overdressed guys snatching him from his snug home and jabbering to him in ‘groundhogease,’ he has scurried back inside.

So, what does the famous Phil have to do with weather prediction? Groundhog Day is a direct descendent of Candlemas, an early Christian Holy day to bless and distribute candles, especially popular during those long dark winters. Somehow along the way, these cynical celebrants decided that clear skies on Candlemas meant a longer winter. Which I never understood, as I’d think one would be more inclined to hopefulness than if standing in a blizzard. But, oh well. By the time this tradition reached Germany, the groundhog and his shadow had entered the story. When the Germans came to Pennsylvania, they brought their traditions with them. Ever seeking an excuse for a party, these jolly folk came up with what we now celebrate as Groundhog Day.

That still leaves us with how Phil comes into it. According to the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, "in 1887, a spirited group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney dubbed themselves "The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." One member of the club was an editor of Punxsutawney's newspaper. Using his editorial clout, he proclaimed Punxsutawney Phil, the local groundhog, to be the one and only official weather prognosticating groundhog. He issued this proclamation on, appropriately enough, Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil's fame began to spread, and newspapers from around the globe began to report Punxsutawney Phil's Groundhog Day predictions. Today, 20,000 fans come to Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day to experience this unique—and fun—tradition. For more information about the evolution of Groundhog Day and the story of Punxsutawney Phil, visit Punxsutawney's official Groundhog site "
By Beth Trissel

5 comments

  1. Mona Risk // February 2, 2008 at 3:10 PM  

    Never saw this type. What a cute animal. Ugly and cute.

    Bess, congratulations on your sale.

  2. Liz Jasper // February 2, 2008 at 4:18 PM  

    I'm impressed you can spell Puxt.... Pete's name. : ) And Mona, how can you say he's ugly?

  3. Helen Scott Taylor // February 2, 2008 at 5:31 PM  

    Okay, I'm afraid I was giggling the whole way through this once I read Gobblers Knob. Is there really a place with this name?

    Cute little critter and fun tradition. I'm not even going to attempt to write the Puxt word. My spelling isn't up to much at the best of times :-)

  4. Beth Trissel // February 2, 2008 at 11:14 PM  

    Gobblers Knob is a real place, my girl. I couldn't get over the two hour wait in the wee hours for a shuttle to the aforesaid knob to stand about in the cold until the offical ceremony with Phil! AS for the spelling, I copied and pasted it in. :)
    And thanks Mona for the congrats!

  5. Sherry Morris // February 3, 2008 at 9:50 PM  

    Everything I've always wanted to know about Phil, thanks Beth!