Groundhog Day 2012: The Verdict Is In!
Perhaps this isn’t so crucial since it has been a mild winter so far, but we do have a verdict from Punxsutawney Phil!
And the verdict from Punxsutawney Phil after seeing his shadow this morning during the 126th annual Groundhog Day festivities is: six more weeks of winter!
Ah, Groundhog Day. This U.S. and Canadian tradition comes every year on Feb. 2. It has its roots in astronomy, in the sense that it’s a seasonal festival, tied to the movement of Earth around the sun. In the U.S. and Canada, we call it Groundhog Day – a great excuse to go outside and enjoy some revelry during the winter months.
We all know the rules of Groundhog Day. On Feb. 2, a groundhog is said to forecast weather by looking for his shadow. If it’s sunny out, and he sees it, we’re in for six more weeks of winter. On the other hand, a cloudy Groundhog Day is supposed to forecast an early spring.
Of course, it can’t be cloudy, or sunny, everywhere. And many towns in the U.S. and Canada have their own local groundhogs and local traditions for Groundhog Day. But by far the most famous of the February 2 shadow-seeking groundhogs is still Punxsutawney Phil. He’s in Punxsutawney, in western Pennsylvania, which calls itself the “original home of the great weather prognosticator, His Majesty, the Punxsutawney Groundhog.”
Since 1887, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club have held public celebrations of Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney is where Bill Murray was in the movie Groundhog Day. From the looks of things … a good time is had by all.
What you might not know is that Groundhog Day is really an astronomical holiday. It’s an event that takes place in Earth’s orbit around the sun, as we move between the solstices and equinoxes. In other words, Groundhog Day falls more or less midway between the December solstice and the March equinox. Each cross-quarter day is actually a collection of dates, and various traditions celebrate various holidays at this time. Feb. 2 is the year’s first cross-quarter day.