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A Brief Overview of Groundhog Day

Sujata Iyer Feb 8, 2019
Groundhog Day, falls on the 2nd of February every year. It is observed in the United States and Canada. While this day may be a public holiday and a bank holiday, it is not a compulsory holiday declared by the government. Groundhog Day is a tradition wherein a groundhog predicts the weather.

Did You Know?

The tradition of a groundhog forecasting the weather has its roots in an ancient European lore. However, in the lore, it was a badger who predicted the weather.
Human civilization has truly come a long way. From using animals for transport to the super fast automobiles that we have today. From using flint to making fire to using one touch lighters. But there are some things that we will never let go of.
Some ancient traditions that have been brought down through the ages are still followed today. Preserved over time and followed with a fervor by one and all. There are some who follow them because they truly believe in them, and some who follow them blindly without bothering to understand why it is so.
As is with numerous traditional practices, there is one that has been observed since the late 1800s: Groundhog Day. You know you have a holiday every year for this day, but do you know why? Well, let's find out!


Ever heard of Punxsutawney Phil? Groundhog day is observed because of this groundhog. Yes, you read that right. The day is indeed about a groundhog. Punxsutawney is the name of an apparently weather forecasting groundhog.
He lives in his burrow on Gobler's Knob, Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania, for a short period preceding the 2nd of February every year. Otherwise, he lives downtown with another groundhog called Phyllis.

How the Groundhog predicts the weather?

On the 2nd of February, Phil comes out from his burrow and looks for his shadow. If he sees his shadow and goes back into the burrow, then America will have an extended winter of six weeks.
But if he cannot see his shadow, and he remains outside, it means winter will soon end and spring will arrive very shortly. He communicates this to the president of the Inner Circle, the group of people who look after him. He does this in a secret language called Groundhogese, which apparently only the president of the Inner Circle can understand.
Phil has been 'predicting' the length of winter in this manner since almost a century now and they have always been almost 100% accurate. It is obvious for you to wonder how a regular groundhog can live for so long.
Legend has it that Phil has been given a potion with a secret recipe over the years. This potion has the power to extend his life by 6 years, every time he drinks it.


Groundhog Day is celebrated with much aplomb in the United States of America and also in Canada. The largest celebration is held at Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
People wait eagerly, camping days in advance, to see the small groundhog emerge from his burrow, check for his shadow and either go back in or stay out. Today, the Groundhog Day is a widespread tradition and an exciting event.
The Inner Circle generally organizes an annual function on this occasion to honor Phil. He gets a lot of media attention as well. People rejoice when they hear it is time for winter to end and celebrate by eating sweets and singing and dancing.
No one knows how, but all of Phil's predictions since the 1800s have come true. It is indeed mysterious and quite intriguing to rely on a groundhog's prediction for a weather report. Nonetheless, let's wait for Groundhog Day this year and check what he has to say about winter in the year to come.