Groundhog Day is a US "holiday" (although nobody gets a day off!) which takes its tradition from the German Candlemas day. On 2nd February, Germans would watch the badger emerge from its sett to see whether the animal cast a shadow on the ground, which it would only do if it was a sunny day. If it did, the tradition went that there would be another six weeks of wintry weather. If it didn't - in other words if the weather was cloudy that day), then Spring had arrived early.
Having arrived in America, the tradition was carried on, using a groundhog (a small animal from the squirrel family, also known as a woodchuck) instead of a badger.
- The first groundhog was eaten after his prediction. The tradition began with a sign from the rodent followed by a feast which included menu items containing groundhog. Once Groundhog Day became famous, the items containing the animal were removed from the feast.
- Punxsutawney Phil does not live in his own crafted burrow as do other groundhogs. He lives in a climate-controlled, man-made burrow.
- While Phil is the most well known groundhog, there are others across the nation that are brought out for their weather predictions.
- Punxsutawney Phil’s accuracy is only 30-40% which doesn’t make him very credible. This superstition is more of a morale booster for those that are enduring a harsh winter.
- While it is common for groundhogs to come out of their burrows this time of year, it really has nothing to do with predicting the weather. This is their mating season, so the males will come out of their holes, find the females, and then both go back underground.