Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, is coming Saturday. With winter hitting us with cold weather and snow, Americans turn to a groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, to tell us when it will be over. It all depends on his shadow, and the live stream will let you know if some warmer weather is on the horizon.
Groundhog Day 2013 continues the annual tradition, now in its 127th year. According to the tradition, Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby comes out of Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, in northwestern Pennsylvania, each Feb. 2. If the groundhog sees his shadow after emerging from his home, we can expect six more weeks of winter. If Punxsutawney Phil does not see his shadow, Americans can expect an early spring.
According to the lore, this tradition was brought to Pennsylvania when settlers brought the practice of Candlemas Day with them. This tradition marks the midpoint of winter and stems from the earlier Celtic pagan Imbolc, which is a festival celebrating the beginning of spring.
Thousands of people travel to Gobbler’s Knob to see if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow. The tradition is spruced up a bit thanks to the Inner Circle, a group of 15 men dressed to the nines in tuxedos and top hats. The Inner Circle are Phil’s handlers and they help take care of the prognosticating groundhog throughout the year while setting up the annual rite.
According to the official Groundhog Day website, there has only been one Phil all these decades, who “gets his longevity from drinking the elixir of life, a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life.”
The tradition gained even more fame following the release of “Groundhog Day” in 1993. The movie starred Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Punxsutawney Phil and tells the story of Phil (Murray), a weatherman, who lives the same day over and over again.
While not as famous as Phil, there is another prognosticating groundhog that some will be taking note of Saturday. In New York, Staten Island Chuck will emerge from his home to determine if we should expect a longer winter or an early spring. There is some added excitement as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg handles the groundhog. SILive.com will have a live stream of Staten Island Chuck’s prediction. The festivities begin at 7 a.m. EST and the prediction is set to take place around 7:30 a.m.
Saturday’s sunrise is set for 7:06 a.m.
The same time frame applies for Punxsutawney Phil. He will emerge from Gobbler’s Knob around 7:20 a.m. The live stream of Phil’s prediction can be viewed here.
Last year, there were 37 different groundhogs predicting the season on Groundhog Day. The majority predicted an early spring, Chuck did not see his shadow, which meant an early spring, while Phil did, which meant for six more weeks of winter.
The big question remains, can a groundhog predict the season? Sadly, it seems like the answer is no. Stormfax Weather Almanac has tracked Phil’s predictions since 1887 and gives the groundhog a 39 percent success rate.
Charles Poladian joined IBTimes in October 2012 and, when not reporting on all things topical, can be found reading or photographing concerts.