Groundhog Day: Phil’s or Chuck’s?

You probably know the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, right? America repeatedly relies on this little groundhog to tell if spring will arrive within 6 weeks, or if winter will continue for 6 more blustery, snowy weeks. Another groundhog, known as Chuck, also makes predictions, but this year he completely disagreed with Phil. Who’s most likely to be right? And why do we celebrate Groundhog Day, anyway?

It all started a really long time ago, with ancient England. In both German and Celtic lands could be found relatives of today’s event. February 1st is considered the beginning of the next season, according to the Celtic calendar.  So superstitious were people at that time, they wanted to find a way to know if spring or winter would be for the next six weeks. Instead of a groundhog, usually a badger or a bear was depended on. The roots of Punxsutawney’s celebration was around the 18th century, when the Pennsylvanian Germans carried their tradition into modern times. This diary entry, from a storekeeper by the name of James Morris, describes this:

Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.

There are also a few poems around Europe that tell how a clear day means winter weather will stick around, and a cloudy one means spring weather will arrive soon. And how did the groundhog/badger/bear-thing start? Well, a badger can’t cast a shadow on a cloudy, day can it? And a groundhog will certainly espy his personal darkness if it was sunny out.

So how do we know? Well, Silive.com describes a plan to track temperature for a few weeks until they can plainly see which is truer. Personally, from what I can infer from the “traditional” celebrations, I suspect that it would be a good idea to judge by the weather in wherever you live, not by what the weather’s like halfway across the country. Here’s a graph I spent hours working on to help you figure it out yourself:

(That was sarcasm)

(Click on the picture to see it larger)

(It really only took me about five minutes)

Well, that happens to be all that I have for tonight. Here’s where I got most of my information:

Wikipedia article: Groundhog Day

Silive.com: Groundhog Day 2012: Staten Islanders Applaud Chuck’s Prediction of Early Spring

Click here if you want to search “Groundhog Day” but are too lazy to go type it in yourself.

I thank all 2,374 and then some of you reading my blog. Thank you so much and have a great…er, is it February now? Oh yeah, that’s pretty much what my article was about.

–Aidyl

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