Groundhog Was Once on Punxsutawney’s Menu

Groundhog Was Once on Punxsutawney’s Menu

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On February 2, 1887—a few months after an inferno had reduced a third of the commercial buildings in Punxsutawney to ashes—a small group of men ascended a wooded area a mile outside the small western Pennsylvania coal town in search of a local rodent said to possess meteorological forecasting powers.

“Up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen his shadow,” the Punxsutawney Spirit dejectedly reported to its readers. Later that day, however, the men of what would become known as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club spotted one of the local woodchucks and reported back to the town that it had seen its shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter.

READ MORE: Beyond Punxsutawney: Meet the Other Groundhogs

The German immigrants who had come to western Pennsylvania in the late 1800s to work in the region’s coal fields and factories brought with them the midwinter holiday tradition, which had its roots in the Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, a feast commemorating the halfway point between the winter solstice and vernal equinox when clergy blessed and distributed light-giving candles for dark winter nights.

According to legend, a sunny Candlemas was said to have meant another 40 days of cold and snow. (“For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May,” went one popular saying.) Germans adopted hedgehogs to be the predictors of the weather on Candlemas and substituted the more prevalent native groundhogs when they arrived in America.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, however, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club relied on the furry rodents for more than just their weather forecasting prowess. They ate them as well.

In the club’s early years, an annual Groundhog Hunt each September held a more prominent place on Punxsutawney’s civic calendar than the Groundhog Day weather prophecies. With the arrival of the railroad connecting Pittsburgh to Punxsutawney in 1899, politicians and reporters began to make the annual trek, and each year the hunt and subsequent banquet grew more elaborate.

READ MORE: Groundhog Day History and Facts

The Punxsutawney Spirit reported that more than 150 people turned up for the 1910 Groundhog Hunt outside of town on Gobbler’s Knob. The club opened its festivities by belting out the official groundhog song written by its eldest member:

“We had a pie all made of rye
And Groundhog was the meat,
We have enough, and plenty, too,
And more than we can eat.”

Armed not with guns and dogs—but shovels, hoes and rubber hoses to listen underground—the club members proceeded to the hunt. When the familiar groundhog used by the townspeople to forecast the weather every February 2, later to be known as “Punxsutawney Phil,” popped his head out of the ground, the hunt leader bellowed, “The official woodchuck is holed!”

The hunters in their suit coats and hats sprinted to the hole and began to dig furiously before they finally unearthed the pudgy creature. After posing for a photograph with the groundhog, the club members let it loose for a chase. “The old ‘chuck proved that he was some sprinter,” the Punxsutawney Spirit reported. The groundhog eluded capture for five minutes before finally being corralled it by its tail. The men then poured “groundhog punch”—an elixir made from vodka, milk and orange juice said to add seven years to Phil’s life—down the creature’s throat.

While the local weather prognosticator was toasted with homemade beer and groundhog punch, others of Punxsutawney’s woodchucks did not make out so well. After the hunt, the men feasted on 41 groundhogs that had already been captured, killed and marinated. Groundhog was so much of a culinary delicacy in Punxsutawney at the time that the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “woodchuck steak” was the “gastronomical climax” of a banquet held in honor of Pennsylvania governor Edwin Stuart during the town’s Old Home Week in 1909.

Cleveland’s Plain Dealer newspaper reported in September 1913 that 100 groundhogs were killed at the annual hunt. “If those people aren’t careful they’ll find themselves next February without any means of predicting how long the winter is going to last,” the newspaper editorialized. In the ensuing years, the club did give up the hunt as the forecasting woodchuck began to grab more headlines.

As early as 1910, stories about the town’s Groundhog Day commemorations began to appear in newspapers around the country. Print—and later radio and television—reporters began to make annual pilgrimages to Punxsutawney every February 2.

Except for getting rustled from hibernation once a year, Punxsutawney Phil has it much easier than his ancestors. The Groundhog Club no longer holds an annual hunt, but it does put on an annual picnic at which its famous woodchuck gets to imbibe the magical “groundhog punch.”

Groundhogs on the Menu? The Wild History of Punxsutawney Phil

Punxsutawney Phil may not know it, but groundhogs were part of the menu on Groundhog Day in the late 1800s.

Apparently, groundhogs were the "other white meat" on that day.

These days, Punxsutawney Phil doesn't have to worry about ending up on a dish. Revelers gather in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where they wait with bated breath to see whether Phil sees his shadow, indicating that winter will last six more weeks. If he doesn't see his shadow, there will be an early spring, folklore says. [Supernatural Powers? Tales of 10 Historical Predictions]

In fact, the annual Feb. 2 holiday has roots going back to medieval Europe, according to a 1985 report in the Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine.

Winter is halfway over when Feb. 2 rolls around. (It marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox.) Historically, this day was for "reckoning debts and establishing contracts between landowners and tenant farmers" in medieval Europe, historian Christopher R. Davis wrote in the report.

Moreover, Feb. 2 is also Candlemas, a Christian holiday that remembers when Mary presented the Christ child and had her ritual purification. Those who observe the day receive blessed candles at church.

An old English song ties Candlemas and winter's longevity together, said the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter, and come not again.

A Scottish rhyme has a similar message, the club said:

If Candlemas day be dry and fair, The half o' winter to come and mair, If Candlemas day be wet and foul, The half of winter's gone at Yule.

The two verses basically say the same thing &mdash that if the weather is sunny on Feb. 2, winter will linger awhile longer. But if it's cloudy on that day, winter is on its way out.

Candlemas transformed into the American Groundhog Day in the 1800s, when German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, the report said. People tended to use badgers as their weather prognosticators in the old country, but groundhogs (also known as woodchucks, marmots or whistle-pigs) were plentiful in Pennsylvania, and so a switch was made.

Unfortunately for the woodchuck (Marmota monax), it also tasted good.

"Dinner guests were reportedly pleased at how tender the marmot meat was when properly prepared, tasting like a cross between pork and chicken," Davis wrote in the report.

Groundhog Day officially began on Feb. 2, 1886, said Katie Donald, the executive director of the Groundhog Club. Nowadays, the celebration lasts four days, and it garners worldwide attention, largely thanks to the 1993 blockbuster film "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray.

Officials claim that Punxsutawney Phil is 130 years old, but groundhogs typically live for about 6 years in the wild, according to Professional Wildlife Removal.

When Phil isn't showing off his celebrity on Groundhog Day, he lives in an enclosure with his wife, Phyllis, and a few of other groundhogs. But he also partakes in other events, including parades, festivals and sporting events, and visitation days at elderly care facilities and schools, Donald said.

"He enjoys meeting new friends from all over the world," Donald told Live Science in an email. "He generally is very mild-mannered."

Chilly but partly sunny weather is expected for the historic 130th Groundhog Day celebrations in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, tomorrow. Check back on Live Science to see whether the groundhog will get the forecast right this year.

Groundhog Day: Historical Holiday or a Pointless Event?

Understanding the context of this bizarre celebration through its long past.

Darin Hinshaw, Staff Reporter | January 31, 2021

With January now concluding, and February coming soon, so does the yearly Groundhog Day holiday. However, the idea that a groundhog predicting the weather can seem bizarre, but perhaps the answer to this event can be found in its 134-year history.

As stated, Groundhog Day has been a holiday in America for over a century, the first held in 1887 in Punxsutawney. But interestingly, the history of the practice goes back even further. The furthest history tells of the practice comes from the Christian holiday known as Candlemas Day, stated by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club .

“ The celebration started in Christianity as the day, (Feb. 2) when Christians would take their candles to the church to have them blessed,” according to the official club . “ This, they felt, would bring blessings to their household for the remaining winter.”

It was through this practice that many Europeans felt assured they would be able to survive the grueling winter to come. But once this practice was in the hands of Germany, was when an animal became involved. Instead of a groundhog, it was a hedgehog, and similarly, it too would check for its shadow on Candlemas Day . But when these Germans eventually settled into the new United States, practices changed.

“As German settlers came to what is now the United States, so too came their traditions and folklore. With the absence of hedgehogs in the United States, a similar hibernating animal was chosen (the groundhog),” according to the official club .

Though as times changed, and the winter no longer became the threat it was decades ago, so changed the reasoning to celebrate the holiday. As stated, the first Groundhog Day was recorded in 1887, and since then it’s been an excuse for a celebration in Pennsylvania. With over a thousand visitors flocking in to see Phil himself and celebrate with the locals. This all changed, however, with the successful 1993 comedy movie Groundhog Day , and across the nation, people flocked towards Punxsutawney.

“The movie blew everything up. We went from having a few thousand to 10,000 the next year, and it’s only gotten bigger,” said John Griffiths , a handler for Phil.

Moving further into the town and home of Punxsutawney Phil, over the century of this tradition, the group known as the Inner Circle are the ones who care for the groundhog. Consisting of only men, wearing suits and top hats, they manage and prepare the festivities in Punxsutawney every year. They also manage the official club for the event, and each member state claims on the true power behind Phil, including Phil himself.

“ Phil has been predicting the weather for over 120 years. He is accurate 100% of the time,” according to the Inner Circle. “…meteorologists are correct about 70% of the time. Phil is always right.”

Despite whether these claims are true or not, it does little for the general energy of the holiday, where residents and Pennsylvania and all over enjoy their selves an excuse for a celebration. But how about back here in Kentucky? With no resident magic groundhog, does the opinion on the holiday change? Well, our members of Dunbar give their take on the experience.

“Groundhog day, well I haven’t really heard about it much, except in school, “ senior Christian Sanchez said. “I don’t really remember much about it either because I didn’t really think it was all that important.”

Of course, it isn’t much of a shock to understand how a holiday that is celebrated in a few selected places wouldn’t resonate with those not affected by it. But perhaps this year may be different. With the COVID-19 pandemic is at large, and this being (hopefully) the first Groundhog Day under COVID-19, could there be a chance those at home will stand-by to see what the groundhog has to say?

“I would think (people would watch it), just because we’re home and there’s less stuff to do,” social studies teacher Paula Aseltyne said.

About Punxsutawney

Punxsutawney is a quintessential Pennsylvania small town, at the crossroads of PA Route 36 and US Route 119, in Jefferson County (1 ½ hours northeast of Pittsburgh).

With the Mahoning Creek running right through town and as the southwestern gateway into the PA Wilds and the Great Outdoors, Punxsutawney is surrounded by natural beauty and resources that make it the perfect spot for a visitor or resident to find an easy-going lifestyle.

Downtown Punxsutawney

Downtown Punxsutawney is a clean, beautiful, and has a business district where generational businesses are locally grown and locally proud. It is an historic downtown that celebrates its late Victorian and Romanesque Revival architectural styles in local buildings.

The town comes alive when celebrating the arts, culture and heritage through community-wide events and activities.

The Groundhog Day Tradition

Known for its long-standing celebration of Groundhog Day on February 2nd, Punxsutawney&rsquos most famous resident, Punxsutawney Phil, has been predicting an early spring or six more weeks of winter for the rest of the country since the late 1880&rsquos. Visit on Groundhog Day or enjoy year-round festivities to experience the unique and storied history of Punxsutawney.

Year-Round Activities

Take a boat out or go fishing on Cloe Lake, hike, bike or cross-country ski along the Mahoning Shadow Trail, kayak down the Mahoning Creek, or explore the surrounding natural habitats. Relax afterward at local wineries or enjoy a leisurely game of golf. Punxsutawney offers a variety of outdoor recreational options for adventurers of all ages.

Phantastic Phil's

Plan Your Visit!

From places to stay to other local attractions, let us assist you in planning your trip to Punxsutawney! We have many resources to help make it an unforgettable getaway.

Groundhog Day History

On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day, highlighting a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

As per tradition, if a groundhog emerges from its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets terrified and runs once more into its burrow, anticipating six additional weeks of winter weather no shadow implies an early spring.

Groundhog Day has its roots in the old Christian tradition of Candlemas when ministry would bless and distribute candles required for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be.

Germans developed this idea by selecting an animal—the hedgehog—as a method for foreseeing climate. When they came to America, German pilgrims in Pennsylvania proceeded with the tradition, even though they changed from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog trackers from Punxsutawney called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club announced that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog.

The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil may be America’s most famous groundhogs, however different towns across North America currently have their own weather-predicting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacadie Sam in Canada.

In 1993, the film Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray promoted the utilization of “groundhog day” to mean something that is repeated again and again.

Today, a huge number of individuals join on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney every February 2 to observe Phil’s prediction. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has a three-day celebration featuring entertainment and activities.

A Gloomy Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil Says More Winter

There will be six more weeks of winter, Punxsutawney Phil predicted as he emerged from his burrow on a snowy Tuesday morning to perform his Groundhog Day duties.

Members of Phil's “inner circle” woke up the furry critter at 7:25 a.m. at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to see whether he would see his shadow or not.

Shortly after this year's prediction was revealed, one of the members of the inner circle shared a message he said Phil had told him earlier in the day: “After winter, you’re looking forward to one of the most beautiful and brightest springs you’ve ever seen.”

Another member of the “inner circle” noted the uniqueness of the past year.

“People have been referencing Groundhog Day. It has felt like at times we're all living the same day over and over again,” one of the members said. “Groundhog Day also shows us that the monotony ends. The cycle will be broken.”

“Today actually is Groundhog Day, there's only one,” he added. “There is quite literally a new day coming over the horizon.”

The spectacle that is Groundhog Day still went on, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, revelers weren’t able to see Phil and celebrate in person: This year, it was all virtual.

A livestream, which had more than 15,000 viewers at one point, played footage from previous Groundhog Day's ahead of the big reveal.

Then of course, the prognosticator of prognosticators — assisted by his Inner Circle — emerged at dawn. The lore goes that if he sees his shadow as he did this year, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, spring comes early.

The livestream from Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, is made possible by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office's Holi-stay PA. The event there — always Feb. 2 — dates back to 1887.

Wearing top hats, members of the club summoned Phil from a new tree stump.

“You look beautiful,” club president Jeff Lundy told Phil, who directed members to one of two scrolls.

Major Snowstorm Slams Northeast, Spurring Shutdowns and Blackouts

PHOTOS: Nor'easter Dumps Snow on NYC, Tri-State

A club member announced, “We have all passed through the darkness of night, but now see hope in morning’s bright light. But now when I turn to see, there’s a perfect shadow cast of me."

The livestream from Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh, is made possible by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office's Holi-stay PA. The event there — always Feb. 2 — dates back to 1887.

Phil this year, like many years in the past, gave his forecast during a major snowstorm that hit the entire Northeast.

The annual event has its origin in a German legend about a furry rodent. Records dating to the late 1800s show Phil has predicted longer winters more than 100 times. The 2020 forecast called for an early spring — however, Phil didn't say anything about a pandemic.

In its 135-year history, Phil has predicted winter 106 times and spring 20 times, the club said. Ten years were lost because no records were kept.

Punxsutawney Phil may be the most famous groundhog seer but he's certainly not the only one. There are two other high-profile “imposters,” as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club calls them, in the region.

Staten Island Chuck foresaw a different timeline for the end of winter, prophesying that New York was in for an early spring when he didn't see his shadow Tuesday morning at the Staten Island Zoo. That event was streamed on Facebook since the zoo is closed.

Also without fanfare, Chuckles, Connecticut's official state groundhog, will make a prediction from home: the Lutz Children's Museum in Manchester. That will also be streamed on Facebook. Chuckles X died in September, and it remains to be seen whether an anointed Chuckles XI will emerge Tuesday.

Groundhog Day 2011: Punxsutawney Phil Sees No Shadow

On 125th anniversary, Punxsutawney Phil offers warm greeting.

"The sky is clear. Prepare for warmth!" With those rousing words Wednesday morning, the world's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, offered a ray of hope to millions of Americans being buffeted by a monster winter storm. (See Groundhog Day pictures.)

By seeing no shadow as he emerged from his ceremonial burrow in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Groundhog Day 2011, Phil, according to tradition, is said to have predicted an early spring.

"Groundhog Day is a lot like a rock concert, but the people are better behaved and there's a groundhog involved," Tom Chapin, editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper, told National Geographic News last Groundhog Day eve.

"There's music and entertainment, spoofs of game shows, and people shooting t-shirts and Beanie Babies" into the crowd, he said.

Legend has it that if Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his temporary burrow—a simulated tree stump at the rural site of Gobbler's Knob—on February 2 and sees his shadow, winter weather will continue for six more weeks across the United States. But if Phil doesn't see his shadow, then spring temperatures are just around the corner.

Regardless of the weather prediction, on Groundhog Day, Phil "speaks" to his human caretakers, known as the Inner Circle, in Groundhogese and tells them his forecast. The Inner Circle then translates Phil's words for the world to hear—or so they say. (Related: "Groundhog Sees More Winter Ahead" [2006].)

On Groundhog Day 2011, "immortal" Punxsutawney Phil—supposedly born no later than the 19th century—got his message out in some decidedly 21st-century ways, by texting his forecast (to sign up, text "groundhog" to 247365) and, of course, updating his Facebook status and the Pennsylvania-tourism Twitter feed.

Video: Wild Groundhog in "Action"

Groundhog Day Origins

According to the official Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Day Web site, Groundhog Day is the result of a blend of ancient Christian and Roman customs that came together in Germany.

In the early days of Christianity in Europe, clergy would distribute blessed candles to the faithful on February 2 in honor of Candlemas, a holiday celebrating the Virgin Mary's presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem 40 days after his birth.

Along the way, February 2 also became associated with weather prediction, perhaps due to its proximity to the pagan Celtic festival of Imbolc—also a time of meteorological superstition—which falls on February 1.

Tradition held that the weather on Candlemas was important: Clear skies meant an extended winter.

Legend has it that the Romans also believed that conditions during the first days of February were good predictors of future weather, but the empire looked to hedgehogs for their forecasts.

These two traditions melded in Germany and were brought over to the United States by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. Lacking hedgehogs, the German settlers substituted native groundhogs in the ritual, and Groundhog Day was born.

(Download a National Geographic groundhog picture as wallpaper.)

Punxsutawney Phil. Will. Not. Die.

In 1887 a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney (map) dubbed themselves the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club and declared their furry oracle, Punxsutawney Phil, the one and only "official" weather-prognosticating groundhog. The Punxsutawney ceremony originated around the same time.

More than a hundred years later, Punxsutawney Phil remains the star of Groundhog Day, though rivals such as Staten Island Chuck and Gen. Beauregard Lee maintain regional fame. (See "Groundhogs Disagree on Winter Prognosis" [2009].)

According to Punxsutawney folklore, Phil owes his long lifespan to an "elixir of life," served every summer at the annual Groundhog Picnic, of which there are curiously no photographs.

Despite the Inner Circle's claims, such longevity would make Punxsutawney Phil a statistical anomaly, to say the least—groundhogs in captivity typically live no longer than about ten years, which suggests Phil's name, passed down like "Lassie," may be the only immortal thing about him. Then again, the current Phil, weighing in at 20 pounds (9 kilograms) versus the usual 13 (6 kilograms), is anything but ordinary.

When he's not predicting the weather, Punxsutawney Phil makes his home at the Groundhog Zoo, an annex of the town library.

Also known as woodchucks, groundhogs are rodents of the marmot genus. Native to most of Canada and the eastern U.S., groundhogs gorge themselves all summer, then hibernate between fall's first frost and the start of spring—with significantly lower heart rates and body temperatures. Seen mainly around fields, streams, and roads, these squirrel cousins feast mainly on grasses and other plants, as well as fruit and tree bark.

Groundhog Day 2011 Predictions: Flipping a Coin More Accurate?

While Phil's proponents maintain that his predictions are 100 percent accurate, the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) has estimated that Phil is correct only about 40 percent of the time.

The NCDC reached their conclusion by taking Phil's predictions and comparing them with average temperatures in February and March. In many years when Phil's predicted six more weeks of winter weather, February and March have turned out to be warmer than average.

But to obsess over the accuracy of Phil's predictions is to miss the point, Chapin said. "It's more about having fun."

Groundhog Day Robot to Replace Punxsutawney Phil?

Not everyone finds the annual event entertaining, though.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 2010 sent a letter to the president of the Inner Circle suggesting they retire Phil to a sanctuary and replace him with an electronic groundhog.

"Other popular exhibitions have featured robotic penguins and dolphins who swim and communicate just like real animals do," the letter says, "and we think that an animatronic groundhog would similarly mesmerize a crowd full of curious spectators in Punxsutawney."

Chapin, the Punxsutawney Spirit editor and—journalistic objectivity be damned—an unabashed Punxsutawney Phil fan, dismissed PETA's letter as a publicity stunt.

"The thing about PETA is they only get worried about Punxsutawney Phil once a year," Chapin said. "The other 364 days of the year they don't say anything," he said. "It's an interesting idea, but I don't suspect Phil will be retiring anytime soon."

Groundhog Day History

On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day, highlighting a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

As per tradition, if a groundhog emerges from its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets terrified and runs once more into its burrow, anticipating six additional weeks of winter weather no shadow implies an early spring.

Groundhog Day has its roots in the old Christian tradition of Candlemas when ministry would bless and distribute candles required for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be.

Germans developed this idea by selecting an animal—the hedgehog—as a method for foreseeing climate. When they came to America, German pilgrims in Pennsylvania proceeded with the tradition, even though they changed from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog trackers from Punxsutawney called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club announced that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog.

The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil may be America’s most famous groundhogs, however different towns across North America currently have their own weather-predicting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacadie Sam in Canada.

In 1993, the film Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray promoted the utilization of “groundhog day” to mean something that is repeated again and again.

Today, a huge number of individuals join on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney every February 2 to observe Phil’s prediction. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has a three-day celebration featuring entertainment and activities.

Ground Hog Day-Groundhog Day History And Celebration

The advent of Spring is determined by the Ground Hog emerging out of its burrow. While it is out of its burrow, it happens to see its shadow and retreats back to its dwelling, it means that Spring is still six weeks away. If it so happens that the Ground Hog does not see its shadow, and remains above the ground, it is anticipated that Spring has arrived.

The Ground Hog Day is an age old tradition, which traces its origin, several centuries before. It is believed that the Roman legions were responsible for introducing this tradition to the Germans, who in turn on receiving it, came to a conclusion that if the Sun appeared on Candlemas Day and if a hedgehog cast its shadow, then Winter is to prolong for six more weeks.

Ground Hog Day Celebration

Groundhog day is celebrated across the US and most popularly in Punxsutawney.

Sometime in 1800s saw the first Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney. The first trek to Globber's Knob, where the Groundhog was to emerge, was conducted on Feburary 2nd 1887.

The day is celebrated with Fersommlinge-social events, including skits and plays and mouth watering food. An aura of festivity envelops the country.

In Pennsylvania, on that day, people only speak the German dialect, foregoing the English language. Anyone who spoke English paid a penalty of usually a nickel, dime or a quarter per English word spoken.

The tradition of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is carried out by a group of people called the Inner Circle, who are local dignitaries. They are responsible for all the activities associated with the Groundhog Day. They are also responsible for feeding the Punxsutawney Phil.

Punxsutawney Phil

Punxsutawney Phil is considered the only Groundhog, who predicts the weather, while the others are considered as imposters. Ground hog Day 2011 is special as it is Punxsutawney Phils 125 prognositcation!

He is usually fed with an elixir, once every Summer on Groundhog Picnic, which is supposed to prolong his life for seven more years. It is believed that there is only one Phil who has been forecasting weather for 125 years.

Punxsutawney Phil emerges out of his burrow on Globber's Knob, in the presence of thousands of folowers to make his weather forecast. It is believed that he speaks to the Groundhog Club president in his Groundhogese language, a language only understood by the president of the Inner Circle. The prediction is then proclaimed to the world.

For those who are doubtful of Punxsutawney Phil's accuracy in prediction, it is affirmed that he has been making hundred percnt accurate predictions, while the meterologists' is about 70% accurate.


Origins Edit

The Pennsylvania Dutch were immigrants from Germanic-speaking areas of Europe. The Germans already had a tradition of marking Candlemas (February 2) as "Badger Day" (Dachstag), where if a badger emerging found it to be a sunny day thereby casting a shadow, it foreboded the prolonging of winter by four more weeks.

Germany Edit

Candlemas is a primarily Catholic festival but also known in the German Protestant (Lutheran) churches. In folk religion, various traditions and superstitions continue to be linked with the holiday, although this was discouraged by the Protestant Reformers in the 16th century. [3] Notably, several traditions akin to weather lores use Candlemas' weather to predict the start of spring.

The weather-predicting animal on Candlemas usually was the badger, although regionally the animal was the bear or the fox. [4] The original weather-predicting animal in Germany had been the bear, another hibernating mammal, but when they grew scarce the lore became altered. [5]

Similarity to the groundhog lore has been noted for the German formula "Sonnt sich der Dachs in der Lichtmeßwoche, so geht er auf vier Wochen wieder zu Loche" (If the badger sunbathes during Candlemas-week, for four more weeks he will be back in his hole). [a] [6] A slight variant is found in a collection of weather lore (bauernregeln, lit. "farmers' rules") printed in Austria in 1823. [7]

Groundhog as badger Edit

So the same tradition as the Germans, except that winter's spell would be prolonged for six weeks instead of four, was maintained by the Pennsylvanians on Groundhog Day. [8] In Germany, the animal was dachs or badger. For the Pennsylvania Dutch, it became the dox which in Deitsch referred to "groundhog". [b] [9] [10]

The standard term for "groundhog" was grun′daks (from German dachs), with the regional variant in York County being grundsau, a direct translation of the English name, according to a 19th-century book on the dialect. [11] The form was a regional variant according to one 19th century source. [11] However, the weather superstition that begins "Der zwet Hær′ning is Grund′sau dåk. Wânn di grundau îr schâtte sent . ("February second is Groundhog day. If the groundhog sees its shadow . )" is given as common to all 14 counties in Dutch Pennsylvania Country, in a 1915 monograph. [c] [12]

In The Thomas R. Brendle Collection of Pennsylvania German Folklore, Brendle preserved the following lore from the local Pennsylvania German dialect:

Wann der Dachs sei Schadde seht im Lichtmess Marye, dann geht er widder in's Loch un beleibt noch sechs Woche drin. Wann Lichtmess Marye awwer drieb is, dann bleibt der dachs haus un's watt noch enanner Friehyaahr. (When the groundhog sees his shadow on the morning of February 2, he will again go into his hole and remain there for six weeks. But if the morning of February 2 is overcast, the groundhog will remain outside and there will be another spring.) [13]

The form grundsow has been used by the lodge in Allentown and elsewhere. [14] Brendle also recorded the name "Grundsaudag" (Groundhog day in Lebanon County) and "Daxdaag" (Groundhog day in Northampton County). [15]

Victor Hugo, in "Les Misérables," (1864) discusses the day as follows:

". it was the second of February, that ancient Candlemas-day whose treacherous sun, the precursor of six weeks of cold, inspired Matthew Laensberg with the two lines, which have deservedly become classic:

'Qu'il luise ou qu'il luiserne, L'ours rentre en sa caverne.'

(Let it gleam or let it glimmer, The bear goes back into his cave.)"

– Hugo, Victor. "Les Misérables." Trans. Fahnestock and MacAfee, based on Wilbour. Signet Classics, NY, 1987. p. 725.

Bear-rat Edit

The groundhog was once also known by the obsolete Latin alias Arctomys monax. The genus name signified "bear-rat". [16] [17] The European marmot is of the same genus and was formerly called Arctomys alpinus. It was speculated that the European counterpart might have lore similar to the groundhog attached to it. [16] [d]

Simpler Candlemas lore Edit

The German version, with the introduction of the badger (or other beasts) was an expansion on a more simple tradition that if the weather was sunny and clear on Candlemas Day people expected winter to continue. [8] The simpler version is summarized in the English (Scots dialect) couplet that runs "If Candlemas is fair and clear / There'll be twa winters in the year", [e] [f] with equivalent phrases in French and German. [19] And the existence of a corresponding Latin couplet has been suggested as evidence of the great antiquity of this tradition. [g] [19]

The use of candles on the Christian Candlemas was inspired by the Roman rite for the goddess Februa, in which a procession of candles was done on February 2, according to Yoder. The Roman calendar, in turn, had Celtic origins. Candlemas concurs with Imbolc, one of the Celtic 'cross-quarter days', the four days which marked the midpoints between solstice and equinox. [21] [20]

British and Gaelic calendars Edit

Scholar Rhys Carpenter in 1946 emphasized that the Badger Day tradition was strong in Germany, but absent in the British Isles, and he referred to this as a reason that the U.S. Groundhog Day was not brought by immigrants from these places. [22]

There did exist a belief among Roman Catholics in Britain that the hedgehog predicted the length of winter, or so it has been claimed, but without demonstration of its age, in a publication by the Scotland-born American journalist Thomas C. MacMillan in 1886, [19] and American writer/journalist Samuel Adams Drake's book published in 1900. [23] [h]

In the Gaelic calendar of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, Brigid's Day (February 1) is a day for predicting the weather. [24] [25] While in Scotland the animal that heralds spring on this day is a snake, [i] and on the Isle of Man a large bird, [27] in Ireland folklorist Kevin Danaher records lore of hedgehogs being observed for this omen:

In Irish folk tradition St. Brighid's Day, 1 February, is the first day of Spring, and thus of the farmer's year. . To see a hedgehog was a good weather sign, for the hedgehog comes come out of the hole in which he has spent the winter, looks about to judge the weather, and returns to his burrow if bad weather is going to continue. If he stays out, it means that he knows the mild weather is coming. [24]

United States Edit

The observance of Groundhog Day in the United States first occurred in German communities in Pennsylvania, according to known records. The earliest mention of Groundhog Day is an entry on February 2, 1840, in the diary of James L. Morris of Morgantown, in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, according to the book on the subject by Don Yoder. This was a Welsh enclave but the diarist was commenting on his neighbors who were of German stock. [j] [k] [20] [28]

Punxsutawney beginnings Edit

The first reported news of a Groundhog Day observance was arguably made by the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in 1886: [l] "up to the time of going to press, the beast has not seen its shadow". However, it was not until the following year in 1887 that the first Groundhog Day considered "official" was commemorated there, [29] with a group making a trip to the Gobbler's Knob part of town to consult the groundhog. People have gathered annually at the spot for the event ever since. [30] [18]

Clymer Freas (1867–1942) [m] who was city editor at the Punxsutawney Spirit is credited as the "father" who conceived the idea of "Groundhog Day". [31] [n] It has also been suggested that Punxsutawney was where all the Groundhog Day events originated, from where it spread to other parts of the United States and Canada. [33]

The Groundhog Day celebrations of the 1880s were carried out by the Punxsutawney Elks Lodge. The lodge members were the "genesis" of the Groundhog Club formed later, which continued the Groundhog Day tradition. But the lodge started out being interested in the groundhog as a game animal for food. It had started to serve groundhog at the lodge, and had been organizing a hunting party on a day each year in late summer. [34]

The chronologies given are somewhat inconsistent in the literature. The first "Groundhog Picnic" was held in 1887 according to one source, [31] but given as post-circa-1889 by a local historian in a journal. The historian states that around 1889 the meat was served in the lodge's banquet, and the organized hunt started after that. [34]

Either way, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club was formed in 1899, and continued the hunt and "Groundhog Feast", which took place annually in September. [35] [36] The "hunt" portion of it became increasingly a ritualized formality, because the practical procurement of meat had to occur well ahead of time for marinating. A drink called the "groundhog punch" was also served. [o] [37] [38] The flavor has been described as a "cross between pork and chicken". [39] The hunt and feast did not attract enough outside interest, and the practice discontinued. [35]

The groundhog was not named Phil until 1961, possibly as an indirect reference to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. [40]

Punxsutawney today Edit

The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds as large as 40,000 gather each year [41] (nearly eight times the year-round population of the town). [42] The average draw had been about 2,000 until the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, which is set at the festivities in Punxsutawney, after which attendance rose to about 10,000. [35] The official Phil is pretended to be a supercentenarian, having been the same forecasting beast since 1887. [35]

In 2019, the 133rd year of the tradition, the groundhog was summoned to come out at 7:25 am on February 2, but did not see its shadow. [43] Fans of Punxsutawney Phil awaited his arrival starting at 6:00 am, thanks to a live stream provided by Visit Pennsylvania. The live stream has been a tradition for the past several years, allowing more people than ever to watch the animal meteorologist. [44]

2021 was the 135th, and for the first time, much of the Inner Circle members were required to wear a mask. The groundhog was summoned at 7:25 am on February 2 and saw its shadow. [45] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was held behind closed doors, with no fans allowed to attend.

United States Edit

The Slumbering Groundhog Lodge, which was formed in 1907, has carried out the ceremonies that take place in Quarryville, Pennsylvania. [46] It used to be a contending rival to Punxsutawney over the Groundhog Day fame. It employs a taxidermic specimen (stuffed woodchuck). [35]

In Southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges (Grundsow Lodges) celebrate the holiday with fersommlinge, [47] social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more g'spiel (plays or skits) are performed for entertainment. The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event, and those who speak English pay a penalty, usually in the form of a nickel, dime, or quarter per word spoken, with the money put into a bowl in the center of the table. [48]

In Milltown, New Jersey, Milltown Mel predicts the weather at the American Legion in an early morning ceremony. The event has gained much attention and each year grows larger and larger. During weekdays, people will often attend before school or work. Coffee and Doughnuts are donated by the event's sponsor Bronson & Guthlein Funeral Home. Mel is housed year round at the funeral home. She has an outdoor area as well as an indoor, climate controlled, cage. She is cared for by the owner of Bronson and one of his tenents, who is a volunteer EMT with the local rescue squad. [49]

In the Midwest, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, is the self-proclaimed "Groundhog Capital of the World". [50] This title taken in response to The Punxsutawney Spirit's 1952 newspaper article describing Sun Prairie as a "remote two cow village buried somewhere in the wilderness. " [51] In 2015, Jimmy the Groundhog bit the ear of Mayor Jon Freund [52] and the story quickly went viral worldwide. The next day a mayoral proclamation absolved Jimmy XI of any wrongdoing. [53]

Buckeye Chuck, Ohio's official State Groundhog, is one of two weather predicting groundhogs. He resides in Marion, Ohio.

Staten Island Chuck is the stage name for the official weather-forecasting woodchuck for New York City, housed in the Staten Island Zoo. [54] In 2009, Chuck bit then NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, prompting zoo officials to quietly replace him with his daughter Charlotte. In 2014, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, famously dropped Charlotte during the ceremony, visibly disturbing many of the children present for the event. [55] Charlotte's untimely death a week later prompted rumors she was killed by the fall. ^ As a result, Bill de Blasio has not participated in the tradition since. [56]

Dunkirk Dave (a stage name for numerous groundhogs that have filled the role since 1960) is the local groundhog for Western New York, handled by Bob Will, a typewriter repairman who runs a rescue shelter for groundhogs. [57] [58]

In Washington, D.C., the Dupont Circle Groundhog Day event features Potomac Phil, another taxidermic specimen. From his first appearance in 2012 to 2018, Phil's spring predictions invariably agreed with those of the more lively Punxsutawney Phil, who made his predictions half an hour earlier. In addition, Phil always predicted correctly six more months of political gridlock. However, after being accused of collusion in 2018, Potomac Phil contradicted Punxsutawney Phil in 2019 and, further, predicted two more years of political insanity. [59]

In Raleigh, NC, an annual event at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences includes Sir Walter Wally. According to museum officials, Wally has been correct 58% of the time vs. Punxsutawney Phil's 39%. [60]

Elsewhere in the American South, the General Beauregard Lee makes predictions from Lilburn, Georgia (later Butts County, Georgia). The University of Dallas in Irving, Texas has boasted of hosting the second largest Groundhog celebration in the world. [61]

Canada Edit

The day is observed with various ceremonies at other locations in North America beyond the United States. [62]

Due to Nova Scotia's Atlantic Time Zone, Shubenacadie Sam makes the first Groundhog Day prediction in North America. [63] "Daks Day" (from the German dachs) is Groundhog Day in the dialect of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. [1]

In French Canada, where the day is known as Jour de la marmotte, Fred la marmotte of Val-d'Espoir [64] [65] has been the representative forecaster for the province of Quebec since 2009. [65] [66] A study also shows that in Quebec, the marmot or groundhog (siffleux) are regarded as Candlemas weather-predicting beasts in some scattered spots, but the bear is the more usual animal. [67] [p]

Balzac Billy is the "Prairie Prognosticator", a man-sized groundhog mascot who prognosticates weather on Groundhog's Day from Balzac, Alberta. [69]

In Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil has become a popular tradition. On February 2, people within the city will gather to find out whether or not Phil's shadow is revealed. With that, he will allegedly determine whether spring will soon begin by not seeing his shadow, or if winter will ensue for six more weeks.

Statistics Edit

Punxsutawney Phil's statistics are kept by the Pennsylvania's Groundhog Club which cares for the animal. Phil has predicted 103 forecasts for winter and just 17 for an early spring. [70] Most assessments of Phil's accuracy have given accuracy lower than would be expected with random chance, with Stormfax Almanac giving an estimate of 39%, [71] and meteorologist Tim Roche of Weather Underground giving a 36% accuracy rate between 1969 and 2016 (a range chosen because local weather data was most reliable from 1969 onward) and a 47% record in that time span when predicting early spring. [70] The National Centers for Environmental Information, using a basic metric of above-normal temperatures for early spring and below-normal temperatures for more winter, placed Punxsutawney Phil's accuracy at 40% for the ten-year period preceding 2019. [72] Other poor results from analysis are reported by the Farmer's Almanac (which itself has been known for forecasts of questionable accuracy) as "exactly 50 percent" accuracy, [73] and The National Geographic Society reporting only 28% success. [74] But a Middlebury College team found that a long-term analysis of temperature high/low predictions were 70% accurate, although when the groundhog predicted early spring it was usually wrong. [75] Canadian meteorologist Cindy Day has estimated that Nova Scotia's "Shubenacadie Sam" has an accuracy rate of about 45% compared to 25% for Wiarton Willy in Ontario. [76]

Part of the problem with pinning down an accuracy rate for the groundhog is that what constitutes an early spring is not clearly defined. Assessments of the accuracy of other groundhogs such as Staten Island Chuck do use an objective formula (in Chuck's case, a majority of days that reach 40 °F (4 °C) in New York City between Groundhog Day and the March equinox). [77]

Pseudoscientific evaluation Edit

Prediction based on an animal's behavior used to be given more credence in the past when stores of food became scarce as winter progressed. [78]

One theory states that the groundhog naturally comes out of hibernation in central Pennsylvania in early February because of the increasing average temperature. Under this theory, if German settlement had been centered further north, Groundhog Day would take place at a later date. [79] However, the observed behavior of groundhogs in central New Jersey was that they mostly come out of their burrows in mid-March, regardless of Groundhog Day weather. [80]

There are several different ways of defining when spring begins, but by some common methods of doing so, the first day of spring is around March 20, which is always just under seven weeks after February 2, even in leap years. Also the idea of "spring arriving early" is a highly subjective notion which could arguably refer to almost anything, from several days to several weeks. At any rate, Groundhog Day serves as a convenient and whimsical milestone to mark the end of the darkest three months of the year (November, December, and January in the Northern Hemisphere), and bookends nicely with Halloween, the two holidays being opposite and roughly equidistant in time from the Winter Solstice, with Halloween festivities starting after sunset and taking place in the nighttime, and Groundhog Day being a celebration of sunrise and morning. [ citation needed ]

In Croatia and Serbia, Orthodox Christians have a tradition that on February 2 (Candlemas) or February 15 (Sretenje, The Meeting of the Lord), the bear will awaken from winter dormancy, and if it sees (meets) its own shadow in this sleepy and confused state, it will get scared and go back to sleep for an additional 40 days, thus prolonging the winter. Thus, if it is sunny on Sretenje, it is a sign that the winter is not over yet. If it is cloudy, it is a good sign that the winter is about to end. [81]

Similarly in Germany, on the June 27, they recognize the Seven Sleepers' Day (Siebenschläfertag). If it rains that day, the rest of summer is supposedly going to be rainy. As well, in the United Kingdom, July 15 is known as St. Swithin's day. [82] It was traditionally believed that, if it rained on that day, it would rain for the next 40 days and nights. [82]

The holiday gained more prominence with the release of the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The movie became the 13th highest grossing of the year, with over $70 million at the box office. [83] Over time, the movie became a cult classic and significantly increased awareness and attendance at Groundhog Day events. [35]

Thig an nathair as an toll /
Là donn Brìde, /
Ged robh trì troighean dhen t-sneachd /
Air leac an làir.

The serpent will come from the hole /
On the brown Day of Bríde, /
Though there should be three feet of snow /
On the flat surface of the ground.

20 questions on Groundhog Day

Since the Lehigh Valley enthusiastically celebrates the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of Groundhog Day, you'd think we would all be experts on this wonderful folk holiday. Yet most of us fall short in our knowledge of the esteemed weather prognosticator.

To address this woeful state of affairs on Groundhog Day 2004, The Morning Call consulted Don Yoder, former University of Pennsylvania professor of folklife studies and Pennsylvania Folklife Society co-founder.

Yoder, a premier authority on hex signs and other things Dutch, last year published "Groundhog Day," (Stackpole Books, $19.95, 144 pp.) a book detailing the glorious history and traditions of this celebration, based on his research and contacts among devotees of the groundhog.

Alas, there can be no prize for getting the answers right to this quiz, developed from information in Yoder's book.

But as we face the rest of a particularly bone-chilling winter, here's hoping knowing more about our furry, fair-and-foul weather friend will soften the blow.

1. If it weren't for the Lehigh Valley, there might not be Groundhog Day celebrations in Punxsutawney.

2. The Old Order Amish, who shun worldly ways, shun groundhog lore.

3. There's a connection between the Virgin Mary and the groundhog.

4. When Punxsutawney first had groundhog celebrations, celebrants ate groundhog.

5. General Beauregard Lee was a Confederate Civil War general known for shooting groundhogs on the parade ground.

6. There's a dance called the Groundhog Roll.

7. The Number One groundhog lodge was born in Allentown.

8. The Punxsutawney groundhog always has been named Phil.

9. Pennsylvania's Quakers believed in religious tolerance and groundhogs.

10. When a new groundhog celebration began near Doylestown in 2000, a Beanie Baby stood in for a groundhog.

11. The 1993 Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed in Punxsutawney.

12. A dictionary of grounhogese has been published.

13. Punxsutawney is an Indian word for "place where college students go on a road trip to get drunk once a year."

14. In Quarryville, Lancaster County, devotees dress in drag to greet the groundhog.

15. Only men can be members of groundhog lodges.

16. There are groundhog carols sung to Christmas tunes.

17. The answer to "Wu iss Dahn die Mary?" is known by Lehigh Valley groundhog enthusiasts.

18. Gretchen Groundhog is the villain of a children's book.

19. Pennsylvania Dutch soldiers used to carry letters signed by the groundhog in their pocket to protect them from disasters related to weather and fire.

20. There will be six more weeks of winter.

1. True. Celebrations in Punxsutawney in Jefferson County didn't begin in earnest until 1899, when the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club was organized by Clymer Freas, city editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper. He was the great-grandson of John and Dorcas Freas, who lived in Upper Mount Bethel Township in Northampton County until 1795.

2. False. The Old Order Amish reject the Christmas tree and the Easter bunny. But mentions of the groundhog's weather-forecasting abilities appear in the Budget, the national Amish newspaper, as early as 1892. Granted, the mentions are brief and don't necessarily take the groundhog forecasts seriously. But they're there, along with regular reports of weather and the state of crops in the various Amish settlements.

3. True. Groundhog Day shares Feb. 2 with Candlemas Day, a festival devoted to the Virgin Mary called Maria Lichtmess in medieval Germany. It is one of two days that Europe's early Christianizers appropriated to honor Mary from even earlier Celtic calendar traditions, in which Feb. 1 (the point halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox) and May 1 were the turning points of a four-part year. Candlemas Day, the 40th day after Christmas, commemorates when Mary and Joseph would have presented their

son in the Temple and offer sacrifice. In pre-Protestant Europe, people brought candles to church to be blessed -- tradition held that if the sun came out on Candlemas Day, the second half of winter would be cold and stormy.

4. True. The practice is noted at the 1899 celebration. Groundhog also was on the menu in early celebrations in the Allentown area. The practice may be seen as a type of totemism in which the totemic (symbolic) animal is "ritually slain and eaten in a sacramental meal," Don Yoder writes in "Groundhog Day."

5. False. He's the groundhog who is Georgia's Official Weather Prognosticator and carries out his duties from Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn, Ga. He is one of at least 28 other out-of-state and Canadian groundhogs who have risen to the level of "famous."

6. True. In 1913, newspaper coverage attested that couples attending the Groundhog Day Dance in Punxsutawney demonstrated the Groundhog Roll. The scribe apparently did not record the steps.

7. True, true, true! And a marvelous distinction it is. The Allentown area is home to Grundsow Lodge Nummer Ains on da Lechaw (Groundhog Lodge Number One on the Lehigh), one of at least 19 active Pennsylvania Dutch lodges. The lodge's first planning session was held at the Allentown home of William S. ("Pumpernickle Bill") Troxell, who wrote Pennsylvania Dutch dialect columns that appeared in The Morning Call for 30 years. The lodge's first Fersammling (festival meeting) was Feb. 2, 1934, at the Republican

Club Rooms in Northampton. More than 300 men, all dressed in suits and ties and seated at long banquet tables, took the Groundhog Oath.

8. False. In 1915, he is referred to as Wiley William Woodchuck.

9. False. Quakers generally rejected their Pennsylvania Dutch neighbors' weather lore and calendar beliefs, which the believers in the Inner Light considered superstition. A reminiscence from a Quaker family from Bucks County who moved to Virginia notes: "in our settlement the people had no faith in signs and wonders. The ground hog was laughed at, and the wet and dry moon was equally in contempt."

10. True. A real groundhog, Progress Patty, was consulted for weather prognostication, but she was joined by her "daughter," Peppermint, a Beanie Baby hedgehog. Friends of the event's founder, Peggy George, sang a song and went inside to coffee and pastries.

11. False! Those Hollywood hoaxers picked Woodstock, Ill., over the real thing! And everyone knows the real Phil sees his shadow on Gobbler's Knob, not the town square! Shame, shame, shame!

12. True. This is the assertion of Yoder, who provides no details. Groundhogese is the language in which the groundhog whispers his weather prophecy and other wisdom to the president of the Punxsutawney Inner Circle groundhoggers, who interprets and translates it.

13. False. Come now, many people who go on a road trip to Punxsutawney once a year to get drunk are not college students. And many of the 40,000 or so people who drop by each year just get cold, not drunk. The name actually is an old Indian word for: "place of the sand flies."

14. False. The celebration in 2002 did include a cross-dressing Miss Orphie contest, named in honor of the Quarryville groundhog, a 50-plus-year-old stuffed example of the species named Octoraro Orphie. But the official Quarryville Slumberers wear white nightshirts and top hats. No tails. It's the members of the Punxsutawney crowd who stand on formality.

15. False. Yes, this traditionally has been the case, but there are now at least two lodges who admit only women. The Lehigh Valley area is the hotbed of female marmotry -- the Ladies Grundsow Lodge is in the Upper Perkiomen area of Montgomery County and the Tri-County Women's Assembly is based in Fogelsville.

16. True. They are in the tradition of Pennsylvania Dutch dialect songs and poetry, which have been Fersammling mainstays for decades. The carols' words, however, are in English. They include "Jimmy, the Little Brown Groundhog" (to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"), "Punxsutawney Phil Looked Out (to "Good King Wenceslas") and "Hark How He Tells" (to "Carol of the Bells"). John and Jan Haigis published a collection in 1997.

17. True. Extra credit if you know that the answer to the question about Mary's whereabouts in this dialect song often sung in the area's groundhog lodge meetings is "drunne in Macungie" ("down in Macungie.")

18. False. She's actually the heroine in a charming 1978 book, "Gretchen Groundhog, It's Your Day" written by Abby Levine and illustrated by Nancy Cote.

19. False. But they often did carry a "Letter from Heaven." These letters, believed to be a post-Biblical revelation from Jesus, were part of Pennsylvania Dutch weather lore just as strange.

20. Who knows? Do we look like a groundhog to you? Hold your horses. We'll all know by the end of the day.

Watch the video: Groundhog Day Guide from Punxsutawney, PA