Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 5 December, 2023
Gene J. Puskar/AP/Press Association Images Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 126th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania earlier today
Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day! But what's it all about?

A small animal, Gobbler’s Knob and Bill Murray are involved…

IN CASE YOU didn’t know it’s Groundhog Day, so happy Groundhog Day! But what it’s all about?

Well 2 February is a day celebrated in the US and Canada because of an old folk tale that if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day then spring will come early. However if it is sunny and the groundhog emerges to see his shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter weather.

The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in a place called Gobbler’s Knob (stop sniggering down the back) in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where the Groundhog Phil emerges from his burrow on this date (and probably other days too) to deliver his verdict.

The day is also recognisable in popular culture for the film, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray in which the protagonist is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness and become a better person.

As a result, Groundhog Day has come to represent going through the same experience over and over again as poor old Murray does in the film which also stars Andy MacDowell:

Now although this North American tradition may not be applicable on this side of the Atlantic you’re probably wondering what Punxsutawney Groundhog Phil had to say this morning?

Well the Washington Post reports that as he emerged from his burrow in the tiny Pennsylvanian town, he was able to see his own shadow and that means six more weeks of winter weather lies ahead.

But how accurate has he been in recent years?

Well old Phil has been doing this since 1887, seeing his shadow 99 times and failing to spot it on just 16 occasions (there are nine years missing from the record). So we ought to have a pretty good indication of his track record.

His official website claims he has been right 100 per cent of the time but the more objective AccuWeather reckons his accuracy is about 80 per cent.

But one Chicagoan meteorologist Tim McGill is less than enamoured by the whole process: “…Punxsutawney Phil is a punk when it comes to weather forecasting,” he wrote recently.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.