On Feb. 2, the 130th anniversary of Groundhog Day took place at Gobbler’s Knob. At 6 a.m., Punxsutawney Phil was let out of his cage and placed on top of a tree trunk where the
Groundhog Club emcee told the crowd, made up of tens of thousands of people, that Phil did not see his shadow and therefore spring is here.
According to Groundhog.org, Groundhog Day is based on the old European holiday of Candlemas. If the sun was shining on Candlemas, then people believed they would have a second winter. If it was cloudy on Candlemas, then it was believed that spring had arrived.
The idea of an animal making the prediction of winter’s fate originated in Germany. If a hedgehog saw its shadow on Candlemas Day then winter would continue. Hedgehogs changed into groundhogs when German settlers immigrated to Pennsylvania and noticed a resemblance between the European hedgehog and the groundhog.
Punxsutawney Phil has become well-known throughout the years. In 1986 the groundhog, along with a few members of the Groundhog Club, were flown to meet President Reagan. In 1993, there was a film starring Bill Murray that was named after Groundhog Day. Since the creation of the film, both the writer of the screenplay and one of the actors from the film have attended the event. Phil was also on Oprah in 1995.
While Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous groundhog, he is not the only groundhog to predict whether or not winter would continue. In Canada their groundhog, Shubenacadie Sam, did not see his shadow either and New York’s Staten Island Chuck and Georgia’s General Beau Lee both confirmed Phil’s prediction.