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Groundhog day maintains rich tradition

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Year after year, Punxsutawney Phil’s biggest fans anxiously await Groundhog day to find out whether spring will begin early or winter will last six more weeks.

If Phil exits his home burrow and sees his shadow, winter will continue for six more weeks, but when he doesn’t see his shadow, spring comes early. Although many of his followers get excited for the annual event, the accuracy of Punxsutawney Phil predicting the season correctly is fairly low. According to Stormfax, he is only accurate 39 percent of the time.

Each year, crowds of up to 35,000 people gather in the groundhog’s hometown, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to experience the prediction. Others pay close attention to the news to watch live streaming of the event.

The 1993 film, “Groundhog Day,” increased the popularity of the holiday, yet most still lack knowledge on how the holiday originated.

The original idea of this celebration came from the ancient Christian holiday Candlemas Day. This marked the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The church blessed candles and gave them out to their people. Supposedly if Candlemas Day was sunny and clear, winter would be long and rough, but if it was cloudy out, spring would start soon.

Germans later created their own version of the holiday. Putting out badgers and other various animals on a dedicated day, and if they saw their shadows, winter would last significantly longer. When the Germans immigrated to Pennsylvania, the tradition came as well. They chose the groundhog as the official weather predictor.
The first official Groundhog Day took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Since then, it has become an annual celebration.

Since his origin, Punxsutawney Phil has developed new rivals. New York City, New York and Ontario, Canada have their own weather forecasting groundhogs, Staten Island Chuck of New York and Wiarton Willie of Canada. Both cities annually hold festivals celebrating their mascots, yet Phil remains the original, most well-known groundhog.

Phil saw his shadow early Friday, February 2 in Punxsutawney, predicting six more weeks of winter this season.

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Groundhog day maintains rich tradition