Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil doesn't see shadow, predicts early spring

February 2 of every year, the groundhog would come out of his temporary home in Gobbler's Knob, and if he saw his shadow and returned to his burrow, it signified six extra weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phil's co-handler AJ Dereume holds the famous groundhog on the 134th Groundhog Day at Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, U.S., February 2, 2020. (photo credit: ALAN FREED/REUTERS)
Punxsutawney Phil's co-handler AJ Dereume holds the famous groundhog on the 134th Groundhog Day at Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, U.S., February 2, 2020.
(photo credit: ALAN FREED/REUTERS)
World-famous fortune-telling groundhog Punxsutawney Phil revealed his prediction Sunday morning before thousands of people gathered in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with his Inner Circle announcing that spring would arrive early in 2020.
The tradition of Groundhog Day dates back to 1886, when the now legendary groundhog supposedly first began predicting the weather. Since the following year, it has become an annual tradition and a popular holiday in North America.
According to the deep lore behind Punxsutawney Phil, the legendary groundhog is the same groundhog every year, and on February 2 of every year, the "seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators" as he is referred to by his devoted Inner Circle, would come out of his temporary home in Gobbler's Knob and, if he saw his shadow and returned to his burrow, it signified six extra weeks of winter.
Though the tradition is kept in good fun and not usually taken seriously, the Inner Circle maintains total secrecy year round regarding the ceremony and details, insisting that Phil is the same groundhog year after year. Nowadays, the ceremony sees his handlers in the Inner Circle, all dressed in formal attire circa late 1800s including top hats, lifting him up and "conversing" with the prophetic rodent in "groundhogese" to determine if he has indeed seen his shadow. Then, after listening, the Inner Circle transcribes the response on a scroll, which they then dramatically read aloud to his "phaithphil phollowers" in attendance and watching around the world.
In keeping with the secrecy, the Inner Circle claims the predictions are 100% accurate, though whenever it is wrong, it is said that the translator made a mistake.
The tradition is believed to derive from pagan folk traditions in Europe, which focus on similar animals such as badgers.
However, Punxsutawney Phil became an international icon following the popular 1993 film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray, which brought greater prominence to the holiday, which has since become synonymous with a continuously repeating cycle of events.


Tags spring winter