PUNXSY PHIL CARRIES ON 126 YEARS OF TRADITION
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (JFK+50) Will we have six more weeks of winter weather or is an early spring in store?
We found our answer this morning when a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil crawled out of his burrow and due to cloudy conditions did not see his shadow thus predicting an early spring.
Groundhog Day Ceremony
Photo by Aaro Silvers (2005)
This tradition began 126 years ago today, on February 2, 1887, when a newspaper editor in Punxsutawney declared Phil the groundhog the only accurate weather forecaster in America.
The editor was a member of the local groundhog hunters club.
The idea actually came from Germany where on CANDLEMAS DAY priests gave out candles for the winter and based the number needed on the predictions of hedgehogs.
German immigrants in Pennsylvania brought the tradition to America but used groundhogs* because of their abundance in the region.
*Groundhogs, aka woodchucks, have short, powerful legs and thick curved claws which are great for digging.
They have 2 coats of fur and live in the wild on the average of 2 to 3 years. Groundhogs in protective captivity live up to 14 years.
The male groundhog actually comes out of hibernation in the middle of winter to search for a mate, then returns to his burrow until spring.
Thousands of people, approximately 30,000 today, come to Punxsutawney's "Gobbler's Knob" to witness PP's emergence from his burrow.
New England poet, Robert Frost, who participated in JFK's 1961 inauguration, wrote a poem about the groundhog titled "A Drumlin Woodchuck"....the 1st 3 verses are...
One thing has a shelving bank
Another a rotting plank
To give it cozier skies
And make up for its lack of size.
My own strategic retreat
Is where two rocks almost meet
And still more secure and snug
A two-door burrow I dug.
With those in mind at my back
I can sit forth exposed to attack
As one who shrewdly pretends
That he and the world are friends.