Spring is Coming

By: Janvi Amin


The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters on the idea.

     The men trekked to a site called Gobbler’s Knob, where the inaugural groundhog became the bearer of bad news when he saw his shadow.

     Now, the yearly festivities in Punxsutawney are presided over by a band of local people known as the Inner Circle. Its members wear top hats and conduct the official proceedings in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. Every February 2, tens of thousands of spectators attend Groundhog Day events in Punxsutawney, a borough that’s home to some 6,000 people. It was immortalized in the 1993 film Groundhog Day, which was actually shot in Woodstock, Illinois.

     But how accurate are the groundhogs? While sunny winter days are indeed associated with colder, drier air, it wouldn’t be the best idea to trade in our meteorologists for groundhogs just yet. Studies by the National Climatic Data Center and the Canadian weather service have yielded a dismal success rate of around 40 percent for Punxsutawney Phil.

     Staten Island Chuck, on the other hand, is reportedly accurate almost 70 percent of the time.

     The official Groundhog Day website says there is a connection between this event and one known as Candlemas, or Candlemas Day, and this old English song: "If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter, and come not again."

     According to the official site, “The celebration started in Christianity as the day, (February 2nd), when Christians would take their candles to the church to have them blessed. This, they felt, would bring blessings to their household for the remaining winter.”

     Senior Kaiya Anunciado noted that, “We don’t really celebrate or acknowledge the holiday,” while senior Diane Carrillo commented that she “remembers doing fun Groundhog Day activities in elementary school.” Although the holiday is not widely recognized or known, it is a fun and silly tradition that reminds people that life doesn’t always have to be taken too seriously.