Groundhog Day: Five absurd facts you probably didn't know about the Punxsutawney festival

'If the sun shines on Groundhog Day, half the fuel and half the hay'

David Hughes
Monday 02 February 2015 14:45
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Punxsutawney Phil appears at Groundhog Day 2014
Punxsutawney Phil appears at Groundhog Day 2014

Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, has seen his shadow – which means there will be six more weeks of winter (if you believe that sort of thing).

Members of the top hat-wearing Inner Circle announced the "forecast" just before 7:30am local time on Monday.

Every year since 1886, crowds as large of 40,000 have gathered in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on the morning of 2 February to watch a groundhog – a species of small, furry mammal – emerge from a burrow on Gobbler's Knob. According to folklore, if the groundhog sees his shadow, then winter will endure for six more weeks. If it is cloudy, then spring will come early that year.

But that's just the start of it. Here are five facts you never knew about Groundhog Day:

1) Punxsutawney Phil, the legendary groundhog who makes the prediction, has reputedly been operating for over 125 years, with this year's edition marking his 129th appearance. This is despite the lifespan of a groundhog usually being less than six years.

3) The website www.stormfax.com claims that Punxsutawney Phil's forecasts have only been correct 39 per cent of the time, contradicting the figure stated on www.groundhog.org, which is 100 per cent.

Punxsutawney Phil takes a breather on a top hat in 2013

4) Groundhogs are also referred to as 'woodchucks', forming the basis for the tongue-twister: 'How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?'

5) Groundhog Day is celebrated beyond Pennsylvania. In Alaska, the festival is observed as 'Marmot Day', due to an unfortunate dearth of groundhogs in the state.

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