Published On: Feb 01 2012 07:38:49 PM CSTUpdated On: Feb 02 2015 02:03:00 AM CST
Punxsutawney Phil either excites or disappoints us each year with his winter weather prediction on Groundhog Day. Learn more about where this tradition comes from.
The first recorded Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney was on Feb. 2, 1886.
Each year, tens of thousands of tourists jam into the small Pennsylvania town to celebrate Phil’s arrival.
Much is made about Phil himself, but the festivities around Groundhog Day are plentiful. There’s a chili cook-off, ice carving exhibitions, Prognosticators Ball sleigh rides, music, food, fun and games.
The reason for German undertones in Groundhog Day is that it is a very old tradition and the earliest settlers in Pennsylvania were German.
A similar custom takes place in Germany on June 27 called "Siebenschläfertag." If it rains that day, the rest of summer is supposedly going to be rainy.
Serbia celebrates a yearly event that is strikingly similar to Groundhog Day as well. It is celebrated among Orthodox Christians in the country on Feb. 15 each year. If it is sunny and clear, then winter is not over yet. If it is cloudy, winter is about to end.
Outside of Pennsylvania, celebrations take place in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, the Hagerstown area of Maryland, and in Woodstock, Illinois.
Other cities celebrate Groundhog’s Day as well. In southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges celebrate the holiday with social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and skits are performed. The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event.
Wiarton Willie is Phil’s Canadian counterpart. Wee Willie is an albino groundhog who is growing in popularity in Canada.
According to tradition, the men wearing top hats who lead the Punxsutawney Phil ceremony are known as the "Inner Circle."
There are 15 members of the Inner Circle and each of them has a title that ranges from President and Secretary/Treasurer to Thunder Conductor, Iceman and His Protector.
Continuing to keep up with technology, Phil plans to update his Facebook page and tweet his predictions this year.
As to Phil's accuracy, according to the StormFax Weather Almanac and records kept since 1887, Phil's predictions have been correct 39 percent of the time.
As the tradition goes, if Phil sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. Of the 118 predictions on record so far, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring 17 times.
Phil's real name is "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinaire."