OPINION: Groundhog Day deserves more appreciation


Photo courtesy of the Macon Telegraph

General Beauregard Lee, who now resides in Jackson, Georgia, arose from his slumber this morning, walked outside on his front porch, and didn’t see his shadow. This means Beau predicts that we’ll have an early spring.

Chloe Dierkes, Staff Writer

Editors’ Note: Georgia’s meteorological groundhog expert General Beauregard Lee did not see his shadow this morning. An early spring is on its way! The nation’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, unfortunately did see his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter is on the horizon.

And Another Editors’ Note: This article originally appeared online on February 2, 2021. Due to incessant demand, we listened to the people and published it again this year.

Remember Groundhog Day? The day we used to stay up all night, quivering with excitement to see if the famous furry rodent saw his shadow? In our tiny lives, this event changed the trajectory of our entire year. It determined whether we would stay bundled inside for six more weeks, or swap out our winter coat for a tank top. 

As time goes on and we have our first set of braces, our first crush, and first day of high school, we gradually become more skeptical that a groundhog seeing its shadow on a random day in February has any bearing on the weather. We join most adults who would rather trust a middle-aged weatherman with a college degree. In fact, according to the Dayton Daily Mail, only 8% of people believe the groundhog!

Despite popular thought, Groundhog Day isn’t some whimsical holiday invented by Hallmark, and its origin can be traced back several centuries. February 2 (Groundhog Day) falls halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The ancient Celts celebrated February 2 as the beginning of spring in the Pagan festival Imbolc. Over time, this event became Candlemas, a feast celebrating Jesus’ presentation at the temple. Christians believed that if Candlemass was sunny, there would be another 40 days of winter. 

The Germans evolved this tradition further and thought that whether a badger saw its shadow or not determined how long winter would last. When Germans came to Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, they carried this tradition with them and replaced badgers with groundhogs. The first official Groundhog Day in America occurred on February 2, 1887.

A holiday with such historical and ancient significance must not be overlooked. 

The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil, who is 134 years old even though the average groundhog only lives 6-8 years. He resides in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and takes a magical elixir every summer called “groundhog punch,” so that he stays young. This elixir can change his color, which is why he might be grey at one ceremony, and then brown another year, but nonbelievers will say they are just different groundhogs. 

Phil is currently married to Phyllis, but because she does not take the elixir, he has had many wives, all coincidentally named Phyllis. He and Phyllis are too busy to settle down and raise a family, so they have no children. 

Many other groundhogs claim they have the ability to predict the weather, but Phil’s top-hat wearing inner circle believe that this power is only unique to Phil. 

If Phil sees his shadow, he will withdraw back to his den, signifying six more weeks of winter, but if he does not see his shadow, spring will come early. Phil makes an accurate prediction every year. Many people argue that he is more wrong than right, but what they do not know is that Phil’s predictions are not geographically specific, so the six more weeks of summer or winter is in fact true somewhere in the world. 

The President of the Groundhog Club is the only person who can communicate with Phil because he speaks Groundhogese. 

Anyone can join the livestream on February 2. This is one of the most remarkable and amusing holidays of the year, and it’s even better because, unlike Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, it’s true! Don’t miss it!