The Reality Of Groundhog Day

Emily Meneses and Rafaelle Martis

Do you believe that a groundhog can predict future weather? Groundhog Day, a holiday in Canada and North America, holds that belief. Groundhog Day is held annually on February 2nd. The holiday takes Punxsutawney Phil, the official groundhog of Groundhog Day, out of his burrow. Depending on whether Phil sees his shadow or not, he can predict if there will be an early spring or a late winter in the upcoming six months.

The origins of Groundhog Day can be traced back to the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas. Clergy (priests) distribute candles that represent the upcoming winter’s temperature and length. The Germans brought this belief to Pennsylvania and made it into Badger Day, but America changed it to Groundhog Day due to there being many groundhogs living there. In 1887, it was made official that the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club was the only weather-telling animal in America and was named after Phil.

Groundhog Day was a great way to get publicity and gain money. The publicity started to increase when the movie Groundhog’s Day, starring Bill Murray, was released in 1993. Before its release, Groundhog Day was a lesser-known tradition. The movie follows the main character, Phil, a weathercaster reliving February 2nd. This made it easier to sell Groundhog Day-themed children’s books, such as Groundhogs Day Off, written by Robb Pearlman. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club used the increase in popularity to their advantage by arranging activities with Phil. Gobblers Knob Talent, Members Reception, Inner Circle’s Groundhogs Ball, Annual Groundhog Banquet, and Lunch With Phil are among the events. People pay $15 to have lunch with Punxsutawney Phil. People with Gobbler Knob talent can submit videos of their abilities, and only two finalists will be chosen to perform on stage at the Gobbler Knob and receive a parking pass. The grand prize is $500, and the winner is determined on Groundhog Day.

Scottie Andrew, a reporter from CNN, said, “As for his accuracy in weather-predicting, Phil’s hit or miss.” He often sees his shadow—107 times before this year, per the York Daily Record, which has analyzed every single one of Phil’s official weather predictions since the 19th century. Last year, Phil saw his shadow, which coincided with a huge winter storm. The groundhog’s predictions are off at times, and records show that Phil predicted 107 ongoing winters and 20 early springs from the 1880s until now in 2023. “According to the Stormfax Almanac, that works out to a 39% accuracy rate for Phil,” said Aaron Barker, a Fox News weather reporter.

This gives us the question of how we are able to define if Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow. Even though people may say that Phil is a talented animal, Phil cannot speak English or express the weather. Therefore, if Phil is only correct 39% of the time, there is no true point to Groundhog Day. This supports the reasoning that Groundhog Day is a myth with no significance other than carrying on a past tradition.