We Looked Up The History Of Groundhog Day So You Don’t Have To

by Marissa Dubecky

As a refresher for those of us who have seen the movie Groundhog Day a million times but still never remember the tradition because it makes no sense, it goes like this: If Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow when he emerges from his burrow, spring will come early, and if he does, winter will last another six weeks. The bizarre folklore becomes a little less random when you look at its history, which we did so you wouldn’t have to. You’re welcome.

Groundhog Day is based on a methodology northern European farmers developed to determine the start of spring planting season: When furry cuties (usually badgers, hedgehogs, or bears) began emerging from hibernation, it signaled the coming of spring. Germans migrating to Pennsylvania brought the tradition to America in the 18th and 19th centuries, choosing groundhogs as indicators because of their prevalence in the area (and also probably because they are so damned adorable).

Since 1887, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow about 85% of the time, so it’s no shock that we were cursed with another month and a half of winter this morning. The good news is that Phil’s predictions are pretty unreliable—the National Climatic Data Center says his forecasts have shown “no predictive skills” in recent years, and multiple sources put his accuracy rate at around 30%.

Since the groundhog with all the power has never been a lady, we at BUST believe this annual ritual could be benefited by a female perspective. Maybe next year Punxsutawney Phyllis could call the shots? We’d trust her considerably more.

Image via LionsRoar

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