Groundhog Day 2016: Will Punxsutawney Phil See His Shadow And What Does It Mean?

Groundhog Day 2016 is almost upon us all, and it’s just about time to see if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not. A lot of people fail to realize that it is more than just the name of a day each year and the name of the hit movie starring Bill Murray. It’s a pretty big deal and could mean a lot depending on what the groundhog sees, but what does it all mean?

On Feb. 2, 2016, it will be Groundhog Day and the people in the small Jefferson County borough of Punxsutawney will gather around for a big weather-forecasting animal. It’s a tradition that spans back 130 years and gained a lot of popularity thanks to the 1993 film.

punxsutawney phil inner circle groundhog day 2016
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Everyone gathers around to see the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle take Phil out each year. They are noticeable by their tuxedos and top hats, and well, they’re taking care of a very important groundhog throughout the year.

There are two main things to remember when it comes time for Punxsutawney Phil to look for his shadow on Groundhog Day:

  • If he sees his shadow, then winter is going to continue for six more weeks.
  • If he doesn’t see his shadow, then spring is going to come early.

Many long for the second option and hope Phil doesn’t see his shadow so the cold and the snow will be leaving soon. In 2015, Phil did emerge from his little home on the day he woke up from hibernation, saw his shadow, and brought six more weeks of winter.

Unfortunately this year, everyone may have to deal with much worse conditions for the unveiling of the groundhog.

The Weather Channel is reporting that a major winter storm could produce blizzard conditions across the Rockies and central United States at the beginning of February. Heavy snow and strong winds are in the forecast, and it could cause problems before Phil even decides to show his face.

Groundhog Day is no joke at all though, and it’s become increasingly huge in popularity over the years. It went from the townspeople gathering at Gobbler’s Knob for the annual forecast to dozens of thousands of tourists visiting and puling in to see the emergence of Phil.

Punxsutawney Phil groundhog day 2016 gobbler's knob
Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

There are some interesting things to know about Groundhog Day, and the facts are actually much more in-depth than you may think.

Over the years, Punxsutawney Phil has done his fair share of traveling too. He’s appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show (1995), and in 1986, he traveled to meet President Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C.

The groundhog’s full name is “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.” Everyone just shortens it because it is easy to say, but you can catch it being announced in full in the movie Groundhog Day.

Just don’t think of driving angry.

Back in 2010, the Christian Science Monitor reported that PETA had finally said their side of things and wanted Phil to be replaced by a robotic groundhog. They believed that it was time to protect the groundhog and put a robot in his place. The official PETA blog thought his time had come.

“PETA believes that his time has come and they should consider ‘retiring Phil to a sanctuary and replacing him with an electronic groundhog. Phil is forced to be on display year round at the local library and is denied the ability to prepare for and enter yearly hibernation…. Add to that the displeasure of large, screaming crowds, flashing lights of cameras, and human handling.'”

Well, that was six years ago now and Punxsutawney Phil is still doing his job every single year as one of the smallest and hairiest weather forecasters in the world.

Groundhog Day 2016 is just a few short days away and the meaning of the day is important to a lot of people. Once Punxsutawney Phil sees or doesn’t see his shadow, they’ll know if winter is going to carry on or make its way out the door. Only this year, they need to prepare for the elements before it’s even time to wake the groundhog up.

[Image by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images]

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