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Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil predicts early spring

Groundhog Club handler A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil. Associated Press/Photo by Barry Reeger

Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil predicts early spring

Thousands of people gathered in Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Penn. on Friday morning to see if the local groundhog named Phil would see his shadow. According to tradition, if Phil sees his shadow after emerging from his burrow, winter will last for six more weeks. If he does not, spring is expected to begin early. “Glad tidings on this Groundhog Day, an early spring is on the way,” Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Vice President Dan McGinley said after Phil did not see his shadow. The annual celebration draws crowds from around the world and begins before dawn on Feb. 2.

How did the tradition start? The residents of Punxsutawney have been observing Groundhog Day since 1887, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The celebration can be traced back to a European festival marking the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, according to the U.S. Library of Congress. Over the last decade, Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions have been accurate about 30 percent of the time, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Are there other Groundhog Day celebrations? While the celebration in Pennsylvania is the largest and most well-known, dozens of communities across the country and in Canada also celebrate the holiday. Groundhogs in New York, Georgia, Illinois, and Ohio also predicted an early spring Friday when they emerged from their burrows. Meanwhile, employees at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada monitor a desert tortoise named Mojave Max to determine when spring will begin. Max enters his burrow every winter and hibernates until it is warm enough to emerge, marking the start of spring.

Dig deeper: Listen to Mary Reichard’s report on The World and Everything in It last year about the accuracy of Groundhog Day predictions.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.

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