DYK: the groundhog’s shadow

data source: Wikipedia – from 1887-2015

Punxstawney Phil saw his shadow today. And over the 128 years, he has seen his shadow 101 times, 16 no shadows and 11 no records (2 were because of WWII.) The longest predicted stretch of extended winter was 30 years (1903-1933.) According to Stormfax.com Phil’s predictions have proven correct 39% of the time. So, do not fret if Spring is your favorite season, you have a pretty good chance that it’s not too far away.

A little history lesson about Groundhog day: It is assumed that the Pennsylvania tradition came from German immigrants that settled in the area. These immigrants celebrated Candlemas Day with the myth that if the sun came out on Candlemas, a hedgehog would cast its shadow, predicting snow all the way into May.

Nowdays, Phil (who was called Pete prior to 1952) emerges from Gobbler’s Knob amidst the hoopla of up to 30,000 or so people in attendance. Then Phil speaks in “groundhogese” to the president of the Inner Circle so he may translate to the rest of the world his weather report. If Phil sees his shadow, he gets scared and regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground. (Personally, I’d think the sun was a good sign of spring, but maybe that’s why he’s only 39% correct!)

From the Official Punxstawney Phil site (filled with data, games, schedule, and video):

According to an old English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

According to an old Scotch couplet:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be twa (two) winters in the year.

Another variation of the Scottish rhyme:

If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o’ winter to come and mair,
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half of winter’s gone at Yule.

The Germans recited:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.


By | 2018-01-31T17:41:30+00:00 February 2nd, 2015|