Groundhog Day: Spring Is Near

Maggie Vann, Reporter

     As most people know, this year’s Montana winter has felt a little off, with no giant blizzards or negative temperatures. Could the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil be right about this year’s spring predictions? 

     On February 2nd every year, Phil emerges out of his deep sleep in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to make his yearly spring predictions. This year, Groundhog Day was also palindrome day. The date could be said forwards and backwards, 02/02/2020! On this palindrome day, Phil did not see his shadow, and we all know what that means, early spring! 

     Phil’s predictions seem to be accurate so far, the daily average temperature has been in the 30s which is warmer than the “normal” Montana February temperature. Phil has sprung these predictions like he sprung spring on us, for 134 years! The legend has it a mysterious elixir is given to the groundhog every summer which is said to extend his lifespan 7 more years. However, many know that this isn’t feasible, as groundhogs only live around  6-10 years, which means there have actually been 13 Punxsutawney Phils!   

     This crazy holliday emerged on February 2, 1887, and has a pretty interesting history. Groundhog Day has roots from the ancient Christian tradition called Candlemas, when a clergy would bless people and distribute candles needed for the long winter months. These candles represented how long the winter would be, and this tradition expanded when Germans selected a hedgehog as an animal that could predict the weather. Once they arrived in America, the hedgehog switched to the groundhog, as they were more plentiful. Since then, the tradition has continued! 

     If the groundhog viewed his shadow, legend has it, that it would get frightened and run back into its hole. If the groundhog didn’t see its shadow, then it would embrace an early spring! Every year people turn on the tv, and if they are into skiing or snowboarding, hope for six more weeks of winter, while summer lovers hope to see no shadow in turn for an early spring.