Groundhog Day


What is Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day has been celebrated for over a century, since 1887. Every year on the 2nd of February, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club gather around Gobbler’s Knob, the official home of Phil. Donned in top hats and tuxedos, these spirited Pennsylvanians wait to see if the groundhog will see his shadow. If they do, there will be six more weeks of winter. If not, spring will arrive.

But how did this eccentric tradition start? The practice originated from several different groups, evolving from a Celtic observation of the changing of the season, to the Christian holiday Candlemas, then to the Germans who used either a hedgehog or a badger (reason unknown) to predict the weather. When immigrants came to the US, they chose the groundhog, easily found in Pennsylvania where they settled.

2023 Weather Predictions

The famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, is arguably America’s most beloved rodent and predicts when winter will end, and the subsequent arrival of spring. History states that if Phil sees his shadow on the morning of February 2nd, winter will last another six weeks, but if Phil does not see his shadow, spring is just around the corner. This Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney’s finest saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter are ahead of us. However, an article by NPR suggests, “Statistics say not so much: Phil’s accuracy rate is about 40% over the last decade.” Though the holiday exists around much of a tall tale, the celebration is treasured by people across the US, specifically those from Pennsylvania, where Punxsutawney Phil lives.

While Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter, another groundhog by the name of Chuck (the New York native) foresaw an early spring.

Fun Facts

  • Groundhogs are the largest species in the squirrel family
  • Groundhogs are the same thing as woodchucks
  • Groundhogs are vegetarians (most of the time, they have been known to eat baby birds)
  • Groundhogs help aerate the soil by digging their burrows
  • Groundhogs only live in North America

ACC Reactions

“I think it’s ok to watch groundhogs from a distance,” says Hannah, one of ACC’s animal science teachers. She adds, “but I would worry about them getting stressed.”

Speaking about the winter prediction, Sophomore Ilana says, “That means the pollen won’t be as bad like last year so I can again keep eating outside without dying unless I am on three allergy meds. So that is really nice.”