PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. – The world's most famous groundhog saw his shadow Monday morning, predicting this already long winter will last for six more weeks.
Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn in front of an estimated 13,000 witnesses, many dressed in black-and-gold to celebrate the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl victory the night before.
"There's significant buzz from the Steelers win and quite a few Terrible Towels floating from the crowd," said Mickey Rowley, deputy secretary for tourism in Pennsylvania.
The annual ritual takes place on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill in Punxsutawney, a borough of about 6,100 residents some 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club announced the forecast in a short proclamation, in which Phil acknowledged the Steelers' 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
According to German superstition, if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2 — the Christian holiday of Candlemas — winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow was seen, legend said spring would come early.
If you're really wondering
here's some history
In 1723, the Delaware Indians settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a campsite halfway between the Allegheny and the Susquehanna Rivers. The town is 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, at the intersection of Route 36 and Route 119. The Delawares considered groundhogs honorable ancestors. According to the original creation beliefs of the Delaware Indians, their forebears began life as animals in "Mother Earth" and emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men.
The name Punxsutawney comes from the Indian name for the location
"ponksad-uteney" which means "the town of the sandflies."
The name woodchuck comes from the Indian legend of "Wojak,
the groundhog" considered by them to be their ancestral grandfather.
When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day, which has an early origin in the pagan celebration of Imbolc. It came at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition held that if the weather was fair, the second half of Winter would be stormy and cold. For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of Winter. A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home. The day's weather continued to be important. If the sun came out February 2, halfway between Winter and Spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.
The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:
February 4, 1841 - from Morgantown, Berks County (Pennsylvania) storekeeper James Morris' diary..."Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."
According to the old English saying:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.
For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.
And from America:
If the sun shines on Groundhog Day;
Half the fuel and half the hay.
If the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of Winter. Germans watched a badger for the shadow. In Pennsylvania, the groundhog, upon waking from mid-Winter hibernation, was selected as the replacement.
Pennsylvania's official celebration of Groundhog Day began on February 2nd, 1886 with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper's editor, Clymer Freas: "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow." The groundhog was given the name "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary'' and his hometown thus called the "Weather Capital of the World.'' His debut performance: no shadow - early Spring.
The legendary first trip to Gobbler's Knob was made the following year.
Since the 1993 release of the film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray as a TV weatherman (who wakes up and it's Groundhog Day over and over again!) and Andie MacDowell as his puzzled producer, attendance at the real event has expanded. In 1997, there were 35,000 visitors in Punxsutawney, five times the Jefferson County town's 6,700 population.
The Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 1992 were joined by Bill Murray studying for his role in the movie. Then, Columbia Pictures set out to recreate the Punxsutawney Groundhog Day down to the smallest detail. There were, however, many changes made.
Columbia Pictures decided to film the movie in a location more accessible to a major metropolitan center. The highways in and around Punxsutawney were few, so Woodstock, Illinois was chosen as the site. Unfortunately, Woodstock's landscape doesn't have Pennsylvania's scenic rolling hills. Nevertheless, adjustments were made for the production. The actual Gobbler's Knob is a wooded hill with a beautiful view; the Gobbler's Knob in the movie is moved to the town square. The Punxsutawney Gobbler's Knob was recreated to scale in Woodstock's town square based on detailed notes and videos the crew made on it's visit to Punxsutawney. [Photo: © Columbia Pictures]
The movie's script was changed to include the elaborate ceremony of the Inner Circle on Groundhog Day. The original groundhog cast for the movie was considered to be too small.
Some of the store names in Punxsutawney were used in the movie, such as The Smart Shop and Stewart's Drug Store. Punxsutawney's police cars were also recreated for the movie. The groundhog-head trash cans and Groundhog Festival flags that line the streets of Punxsutawney were displayed. Folks traveling to Punxsutawney to see the "Punxsutawney" they saw in the movie wonder why it looks "so different, yet seems so similar."
he groundhog, also known as a woodchuck (Marmota monax), is a member of the squirrel family. Groundhogs in the wild eat succulent green plants, such as dandelion, clover, and grasses.
According to handlers John Griffiths and Ben Hughes, Phil weighs 15 pounds and thrives on dog food and ice cream in his climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library.
Up on Gobbler's Knob, Phil is placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on stage before being pulled out at 7:25 a.m. to make his prediction.
© Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce
The groundhog's seasonal forecasting accuracy is somewhat low.
Phil's Winter prognostications have been correct only 39% of the time.
1887 Shadow; first official trip to Gobbler's Knob.
1888 Shadow (Six more weeks of Winter!)
1889 no record
1890 NO Shadow (early Spring!)
[Birthdate: Charles Correll ("Andy" on radio's Amos & Andy)]
1891 no record
1892 no record
1893 no record
1894 no record
1895 no record
1896 no record
1897 no record
1899 no record
1901 Shadow [Birthdate: Jascha Heifetz, violinist]
1902 NO Shadow
1905 Shadow [Birthdate: Ayn Rand, novelist-philosopher]
1906 Shadow [Birthdate: Gale Gordon, actor]
1912 Shadow [Birthdate: Burton Lane, Broadway composer]
1913 Shadow at 8:08 AM; first newspaper photo of Groundhog Day by John Frampton.
1914 Shadow at 9:34 AM
1915 Shadow at 11:45 AM; named Wiley William Woodchuck!
1916 Shadow at 9:07 AM; first films of Groundhog Day ceremony.
1918 Shadow; 18 degrees below zero.
1919 Shadow [Birthdate: Forrest Tucker, actor]
1921 Shadow at 7:17 AM
1922 Shadow at 7:11 AM; Groundhog Holiday Dance.
1923 Shadow [Birthdate: Liz Smith, gossip columnist]
1924 Shadow at 7:13 AM
1925 Shadow at 8:13 AM; [Birthdate: Elaine Stritch, actress]
1926 Shadow at 9:17 AM
1927 Shadow at 8:35 AM; [Birthdate: Stan Getz, jazz saxophonist]
1928 Shadow at 10:00 AM; program with Punx'y Rotary Club on KDKA Radio.
1930 Shadow at 7:11 AM
1931 Shadow at 12:27 PM
1932 Shadow at 9:11 AM
1934 NO Shadow.
1935 Shadow at 9:11 AM
1936 Shadow at 10:27 AM
1937 Shadow at 9:09 AM; early morning encounter with a skunk!
[Birthdate: Tom Smothers, comedian]
1938 Shadow at 9:05 AM; "darkest shadow in history"
(The Spirit, Feb. 2, 1938)
1939 Shadow at 9:10 AM
1940 Shadow at 9:00 AM
1941 Shadow at 4:25 PM
1942 Partial Shadow at 7:40 AM; "War clouds have blacked out parts of the shadow."
(The Spirit, Feb. 2, 1942) [Birthdate: Graham Nash, guitarist, singer]
1943 Groundhog did not appear; relied on Quarryville's prediction - NO Shadow
1944 Shadow at 9:10 AM
1945 Shadow at 9:00 AM
1946 Shadow at 7:52 AM
1947 Shadow at 7:37 AM; first newspaper photo of Groundhog Club at Gobbler's Knob
[Birthdate: Farrah Fawcett, actress, model]
1948 Shadow at 8:46 AM
1949 Shadow at 7:32 AM
1950 NO Shadow
1951 Shadow at 8:41 AM
1952 Shadow at 7:52 AM; on NBC's Today Show on Monday, February 4
1953 Shadow at 7:38 AM; [Birthdate: Christie Brinkley, Cover Girl model]
1954 Shadow at 8:03 AM
1955 Shadow at 8:51 AM; 4" of snow on Groundhog Day;
[Birthdate: Kim Zimmer, actress]
1956 Shadow at 8:33 AM
1957 Shadow at 7:47 AM; [Birthdate: Brent Spiner, actor]
1958 Shadow at 8:27 AM; [Birthdate: Holly Hunter, actress]
1959 Shadow at 8:23 AM
1960 Shadow at 7:33 AM; forecasts extremely bad weather on the Today show.
1961 Shadow at 7:41 AM; 25 below zero.
1962 Shadow at 7:29 AM; [Birthdate: Garth Brooks, singer]
1963 Shadow at 7:41 AM
1964 Shadow at 7:35 AM
1965 Shadow at 7:58 AM
1966 Shadow at 7:21 AM
1967 Shadow at 7:25 AM
1968 Shadow at 7:29 AM
1969 Shadow at 7:29 AM
1970 NO Shadow
1971 Shadow at 7:29 AM; 14 below zero.
1972 Shadow at 7:30 AM
1973 Shadow at 7:29 AM
1974 Shadow at 7:28 AM
1975 NO Shadow
1976 Shadow at 7:29 AM
1977 Shadow at 7:27; in midst of the energy crisis.
1978 Shadow at 7:28 AM
1979 Shadow at 7:28 AM
1980 Shadow at 7:29 AM
1981 Shadow at 7:27 AM
1982 Shadow at 7:26 AM; coldest January this Century.
1983 NO Shadow; predicted an early Spring after a mild El Nino Winter.
1984 Shadow at 7:04 AM
1985 Shadow at 7:28 AM
1986 NO Shadow; visited President Reagan at the White House in March.
1987 Shadow at 7:29 AM
1988 NO Shadow
1990 NO Shadow
1993 Shadow; the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray is released.
1994 Shadow at 7:28 AM
1995 NO Shadow; afternoon guest on the "Oprah Winfrey" TV Show.
1996 Shadow at 7:21 AM
1997 NO Shadow; 35,000 watched at Gobbler's Knob
1998 Shadow at 7:20 AM; predicting six more weeks of a mild El Nino Winter!
1999 NO Shadow at 7:23 AM; 37º rain
2000 Shadow at 7:28 AM; 12º overcast skies with flurries
2001 Shadow at 7:27 AM; 28º cloudy skies with light snow
2002 Shadow at 7:25 AM; 19º mist with a record 38,000 visitors driven to Gobbler's Knob by bus for security.
2003 Shadow at 7:27 AM; 30º overcast skies with PA Governor Ed Rendell attending the ceremony.
2004 Shadow at 7:27 AM; 17º clear skies with snow on the ground, crowd boos the forecast!
2005 Shadow at 7:31 AM; 14º clear skies with a wind chill of 3ºF.
2006 Shadow at 7:23 AM; 36º overcast skies with the crowd cheering the Steelers in Super Bowl XL.
2007 NO Shadow at 7:28 AM; 26º overcast skies with light snow and mist under a Full Moon.
2008 Shadow at 7:27 AM; 28º fog and mist with the crowd booing six more weeks of Winter.
2009 Shadow at 7:30 AM; 29º overcast skies with the crowd celebrating the Steelers' Super Bowl XLIII victory.
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