Waiting with (Frosty) Bated Breath for Groundhog Day

Phil was famous long before Bill Murray and the movie came along, but how did this tradition get started? Plus, vote for your favorite scene from Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day is today, Feb. 2, and with the up-and-down weather of the past week, guessing Punxsutawney Phil's prediction this year is especially daunting.

According to the myth, if a groundhog sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; if he does not, spring is right around the corner.

Last year, Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, while Staten Island Chuck called for an early spring.

Groundhog Day and other similar legends are based on the beliefs of Europeans, but the true origins of the holiday are lost in time. The day originated from the Germans, Scots and early Christian Europeans.

It is celebrated every year on Feb. 2. On that day, a groundhog comes out of its burrow and checks for its shadow to determine how soon spring will arrive.

Groundhog Day as we know it in the United States started because the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers wanted to know if spring was coming early or not. That information helped them to decide when they should plant seeds and half their hay.

Europeans used hedgehogs as the animal that determined the season change, but Pennsylvania Dutch farmers chose the groundhog because they were found in greater numbers in North America. Groundhog Day stemmed from the ancient traditions of Candlemas, a holiday that originated in early Christian Europe that was celebrated by the Germans.

As we all know by now, the people of Punxsutawney hold celebrations all night long as they wait for Punxsutawney Phil to come out of his burrow and check for his shadow.

Just for fun, we want to know what your favorite scene from Groundhog Day is. Check out the five YouTube clips to the right and tell us in the comments.

This article originally appeared on the NorthHills Patch.

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Erin Faulk February 02, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Warmer days ahead, according to Phil! http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/punxy-phil-sees-no-shadow-predicts-warmer-days-ahead-673098/


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