You all know the lore around Groundhog Day. On the morning of February 2, if the groundhog sees his shadow, he'll go back in his den and winter will last for 6 more weeks. If not, spring will come early. But how much do you know about Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog that helps keeps that tradition popular in the U.S.? Let's find out!
- What's up with that name? Punxsutawney Phil is the groundhog that resides in the borough Punxsutawney, PA. He is also known as Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary. There are other animals that claim to predict the weather (Staten Island Chuck, Dunkirk Dave, General Beauregard Lee), but none are as famous as Phil.
- Why though? The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe. For centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.
- How long have we been celebrating this day? In 1887 the first Groundhog Day considered official was commemorated in Punxsutawney, PA.
- Where does Phil live? He lives at the town library in a special enclosure and is taken care of by a group called the Punxsutawny Groundhog Club Inner Circleopens a new window.
- How do we know if he sees his shadow? On the morning of Groundhog Day, Phil tells the Inner Circle in a language known as Groundhogese if he saw his shadow. They then announce it to the world. Only the president of the Inner Circle can speak Groundhogese and communicate with Phil.
- Is Phil famous? Yep, and he became super famous after the movie Groundhog Day came out in 1993. Although it wasn't actually Phil acting in the movie, Bill Murray really wanted him to. He has also been on Oprah Winfrey and the JumboTron in Times Square.
- How many Phils have there been? There is only one Phil. He has been making predictions since 1886 and his life is sustained by drinks of "groundhog punch" administered at the annual Groundhog Picnic in the fall.
- Is he accurate? Phil is always right. Sometimes his message is mistranslated. In those instances, you can blame the messenger.
If you are totally in love with Phil now, watch Phil's prediction liveopens a new window and discover more Groundhog Day historyopens a new window.