Good Thursday Morning, Friends. This Thursday is going to be a great one. Not only is today the day that leads us into Friday, it is also the day we celebrate the Weather Profit Extraordinaire (and all of his ugliness). Yes, today is officially Groundhog Day. For all of you out there that forgot this day exisited, don’t worry, I have you covered.
The results are in from Punxsutawney, Pa., and Phil the groundhog saw his shadow—so if his prediction holds, we could be in for six more weeks of winter. (I do believe that I read somewhere that Phil's tweet this morning: A terrifying shadow = 6 more weeks of winter! Hmmm. I never thought I would see the day that Punxsutawney Phil would have his own Twitter account before me.) Anyways, this prediction would usually be bad news but because of the Spring like conditions that the land of the North has been experiencing, I would very much welcome a snowflake or two. J
Based on the foundation that today is Groundhog Day and because of my own curiosity, let’s explore the phenomenon of this day a little more in depth.
First Question (and I know we are all thinking it), what is a Groundhog?
The groundhog (Marmota monax), also known as a woodchuck, whistle-pig (How cool is that name), or in some areas as a land-beaver, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots.
So, I realize that the above picture may be deceiving. Punxsutawney Phil (The famous Groundhog) is the one on the left, though I can understand the confusion one might have. This brings me to the fun facts of Groundhog Day and how Phil got his name.
· There’s only one Phil. Although groundhogs live for around 10 years in captivity, Phil loyalists insist there has only been one Punxsutawney Phil since his first appearance in the 1880s. According to the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Phil is given a sip of special groundhog punch every year, which extends his life and allows him to keep making predictions. (csmonitor.com)
o Phil Loyalists? A life Elixor? Hmmm. I don’t seem so crazy anymore.
· The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long. (groundhog.org)
· The National Climatic Data Center reportedly stated that Phil's predictions have been correct 39 percent of the time. This number is in conflict with Phil's club, which states he's been right 100 percent of the time. (Huffington Post)
o Again, I am not looking so crazy anymore.
· How did Phil get his name?
o The groundhog's full name is actually "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary." It was so proclaimed by the "Punxsutawney Groundhog Club" in 1887, the same year they declared Punxsutawney to be the weather capital of the world.
· How do you know it is really Phil at Gobbler's Knob (For those of you who don’t know what Gobbler’s Knob is, it is a tiny hill in Punxsutawney, PA that they have the ceremony) ?
o For most of the year, Phil lives in a climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library. He is taken to Gobbler's Knob and placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on stage before being pulled out at 7:25 am on Groundhog Day, February 2, to make his prediction.
o Ummm, I think this is cheating. Anyone else feel like that? I think I am going to write a letter to the Groundhog Phil Club.
· He may be older than your grandpa’s grandpa, but Phil has adapted with the times. He broke telecommunications ground for rodents in 2010 by allowing people to sign up for a text message notification of his prediction and also updates his Facebook status and tweets his prediction, as he did this morning. (csmonitor.com)