The observance has its roots in Pennsylvania, exactly in the Punxsutawney borough, although the custom has been brought to the United States by German settlers. It was first mentioned in 1840, but the first official celebration of Groundhog Day was reported in 1887. A city editor of Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper, Clymer Freas, is considered to be main person to conceive the idea of such a celebration. In 1899 the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has been formed. The club continued to organize a hunting party every September with a feast and “the groundhog punch” being served, yet the tradition did not gain popularity and stopped being observed. The groundhog received even his own name in Pennsylvania – Phil.
Nowadays Groundhog Day is celebrated in different states as well as in Canada, but the biggest celebration is still held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Nearly 40,000 people (much more than actually live in the town) gather at Gobbler’s Knob on February 2 every year in order to watch the groundhog Phil being summoned from its burrow. Then, only two scenarios are possible: 1) the animal sees its shadow due to clear weather, which means that the winter will still last for six weeks; 2) the groundhog does not see its shadow due to cloudiness, which means that spring will arrive quickly. Even though only nearly half of Phil’s predictions are accurate, many Americans still love the observance.
Did you know?
The full name of the Punxsutawney groundhog is: “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary”. What is more, Phil is expected to be a supercentenarian – the same animal that predicted weather in 1887.
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