People in the United States and Canada will be gearing up to celebrate the annual Groundhog Day, Friday.

The custom is about 130 years old and is celebrated officially in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil.

The custom says that if the groundhog comes out of its hole after its hibernation period and notices its shadow against the sun, it would go back inside the hole which would mean that winter would last another six weeks. However, if there are clouds in the sky during the time when the groundhog comes out from the hole, then it means that spring season will come early.

Over the years, thousands of people have attended the ritual and its celebrations, including the governor of the state.

According to a report by History.com, the inception of Groundhog Day can be dated back to an ancient Christian tradition known as Candlemas which consisted of priests giving away candles to the people to use them during the winter season. The candles were said to represent the duration of the winter season.

The report further said Germans added to the concept and selected an animal — a hedgehog — to predict the weather. These Germans who traveled to the U.S. and settled in Pennsylvania continued to practice the tradition where they changed the animal from a hedgehog to a groundhog, because of a large population of the latter in Pennsylvania.

In 1887, an editor of a newspaper from Punxsutawney, who was part of a groundhog hunting party called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, announced that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was the true predictor of the weather in the U.S. From that moment, a line of groundhogs over the years, which were all known as Phil became one of America’s most revered groundhogs.

However, other parts of the country have their own groundhogs which are believed to be the true forecasters of the weather. Birmingham Bill is the groundhog for Groundhog Day in Alabama, Staten Island Chuck is the official groundhog for the ritual in New York City while Shubenacadie Sam is the groundhog for the occasion in Canada, the report said.

Groundhogs, which are also known as woodchucks, normally weigh around 12 to 15 pounds and they live for six to eight years. These animals go into their hibernation period in late fall and come up in the month of February in order to look for a mate before going down into their hole for hibernation again. Their hibernation period properly ends in the month of March.

The Groundhog Day 2018 will commence at 7:25 a.m. EST, Friday.

Here are some quotes on Groundhog Day 2018:

  • The groundhog is like most other prophets; it delivers its prediction and then disappears - Bill Vaughn 
  • To shorten winter, borrow some money due in spring - W.J. Vogel
  • Alas! Must it ever be so? Do we stand in our own light, wherever we go, And fight our own shadows forever? - Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton
  • The trouble with weather forecasting is that it's right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it - Patrick Young
  • If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another fight; But if Candlemas Day be clouds and rain, Winter is gone, and will not come again - Old Rhyme
  • Though the groundhog and crocus creep into their holes, It's Spring, and the almanac shows it; Though a polar wave over the continent rolls, It's Spring! And we don't care who knows it! - Robert J. Burdette

All quotes are taken from The Quote Garden