To begin with, those keen observers who say 'that's not a groundhog, that's a puppy,' you are absolutely correct. The pesky little woodchuck scurried away before I could snap his pic. Besides, this is my chance to show off my new grandpuppy, Grady, far cuter than a groundhog, though equally as chewy.

As for the big day, 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. This may come as no surprise to the folk who can't even find their cars in all this snow and mutter, 'we wish,' when told there are six more weeks of winter and have visions of the white stuff lasting into June.

But I digress. 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 "

For a special treat I recommend watching Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. I loved that movie.
"Rise and shine woodchuck chuckers, it's Groundhog Day! And don't forget to put your booties on cause it's cooooold outside."

By Beth Trissel

15 comments

  1. Arkansas Cyndi // February 2, 2009 at 10:28 AM  

    The grandpuppy...aw. What a cutie.

    Thanks for the groundhog lecture. I had NO idea where it came from. and I agree...it makes no sense that if the sky was clear on Candlemas, there would be 6 more weeks of winter. It DOES make sense that if "Phil" sees his shadow and runs back into his hole, spring won't come for 6 more weeks.

    Take heart... I am married to "Phil". He saw his shadow this morning and loved it, so my "Phil" says spring is close.... of course, we're in Florida so I don't think you can put much stock in his predictions.

  2. Judy // February 2, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

    Love the grandpuppy...and the name Grady is cute, too. Yes, I know about "Phil". Growing up in upstate NY, groundhog day became very important as we all yearned for better weather!

  3. Pamela Varnado // February 2, 2009 at 12:42 PM  

    Thanks for the history lesson about the groundhog. I didn't know it was such a big celebration. Being a lover of all things frosty, I'm happy to learn it's going to be cold for a while longer.

  4. Mona Risk // February 2, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

    Beth, your puppy is so cute. I'm glad you post his picture. Now I understand that when the groundhog sees his shadow you have snow, but how do you know that he saw his shadow???

  5. Debra St. John // February 2, 2009 at 12:54 PM  

    Wow! I never knew there was so much history to Groundhog Day. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Mary Ricksen // February 2, 2009 at 1:04 PM  

    Oh I just love puppies! How cute.
    And now we know about ground hog day too. Thanks Beth. Now I want a puppy too.

  7. Pat Churchman // February 2, 2009 at 1:31 PM  

    Well...I declare. Never knew that I didn't.
    gmapat

  8. Beth Trissel // February 2, 2009 at 2:00 PM  

    Thanks ladies and mom. :)
    As for Mona's question about how they know if Phil saw his shadow, apparently he told his handlers who speak 'groundhogease.'

  9. Terry Odell // February 2, 2009 at 3:08 PM  

    Groundhog Day has a totally different meaning for me. Feel free to check my blog to see why.

  10. Liz Jasper // February 2, 2009 at 3:15 PM  

    I'm just impressed you can spell Punxsutawney.

  11. Edie // February 2, 2009 at 3:58 PM  

    Cute grandpuppy! One of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day.

  12. Susan Macatee // February 2, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

    Aww, what a cute puppy! Loved the groudhop info too.

  13. Mary Ricksen // February 2, 2009 at 7:32 PM  

    Your mom reads your blog?

    Awesome Mom!!!
    Ain't Beth special. And now she's won another honor. We are lucky to have her Mom.

  14. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2009 at 7:54 PM  

    Yes, indeed. We are lucky to have our Beth. I think we're a great group and we love our visitors who comment, too.

    What an adorable puppy! I did have a "huh?" moment when I saw the picture.

    Traditions are fun, but I hope the furry critter didn't see the shadow. Maybe he ran back inside 'cause he was cold.

  15. Joanne // February 3, 2009 at 9:06 AM  

    Hi Beth,
    Love your Grandpuppy!

    Groundhog day is one of my favorite movies, also.