As much of the country buckles under feet of snow, sleet and ice, Pennsylvania’s prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has predicted that spring is headed to the region early this year, rather than smacking us with another six weeks of blizzardy torment.
According to Newsday, the annual event is based on an old German bit of folklore:
The Groundhog Day celebration is rooted in a German superstition that says if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, the Christian holiday of Candlemas, winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow was seen, legend said spring would come early.
However, Phil’s record is a bit spotty- he’s “wrong” more often than he’s right. And actually, he doesn’t even look for his shadow at all:
In reality, Pennsylvania’s prophetic rodent doesn’t see much of anything. The result is actually decided in advance by 14 members of the Inner Circle, who don tuxedos and top hats for the event.
Inaccuracy and basis of nothing aside, upwards of 10,000 people descend on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney each year to witness the spectacle.