It's here, it's here, the second best time of the year! The Prognosticator of Prognosticators, Punxsutawney Phil, will once again appear at sunrise on February 2nd at Gobbler's Knob in the Pennsylvania Wilds to make his annual prediction on the 130th anniversary of Groundhog Day.
A holiday devoted to age-old, imported German tradition involving a furry marmot who predicts the weather? Sounds pretty crazy, I know.
Well, the story begins with Candlemas, an early Christian holiday where candles were blessed and distributed. Celebrators of the holiday eventually declared clear skies on Candlemas meant a longer winter. The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, brought this tradition to the Germans, who concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, a hedgehog would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather or "Second Winter." German immigrants brought the tradition to Pennsylvania, but how did Punxsutawney Phil emerge?
In 1886, a spirited group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney dubbed themselves "The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." One member was an editor of Punxsutawney's newspaper. Using his ink, he proclaimed Punxsutawney Phil, the local groundhog, to be the one and only weather prognosticating groundhog. He issued this proclamation on Candlemas, and yes, Groundhog Day. Phil's fame spread, and newspapers from around the globe began to report his Gobbler's Knob prediction. Today you will find 20,000+ in attendance and millions watching on television or via the web. Tune in here.
Of course, you could celebrate like most people do ... by watching the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. In my opinion, it's one of Murray's best.