Groundhog Day meaning: Why do Americans believe in Spring prediction at Gobblers knob?

Groundhog Day 2020: Punxsutawney Phil predicts early spring

Groundhog Day falls on February 2 each year, with crowds gathering at Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to see a prediction of whether there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring. However this forecast is not based on the weather or any other science, instead, it is in the hands of a groundhog named Phil.

Punxsutawney Phil is taken from his burrow by a group known as the inner circle and then the future weather is dependent on his shadow.

Should Phil see his shadow, winter will continue.

However, if Phil emerges from his burrow and cannot see his shadow, conditions are said to be warming up and spring just around the corner.

So why exactly do Americans believe in Punxsutawney Spring prediction in Gobblers Knob?

Read More: Groundhog Day 2021 LIVE stream: What time to watch Punxsutawney Phil

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The tradition of groundhogs forecasting the coming weather originates with German settlers, who came to Pennsylvania in the 1700s.

These settlers brought their own twist on the legend of Candlemas in the 18th and 19th centuries.

They used the native Groundhog as their annual weather announcer and the tradition was born.

Candlemas involved the clergy blessing and distributing candles needed for winter.

The first recorded Groundhog Day was brought about by local newspaper editor Clymer Freas in 1886.

Freas proposed the idea of Groundhog Day to Groundhog hunter and local businessmen, as well as members of his Punxsutawney Groundhog club.

And Pennsylvania is not the only place to practice such a tradition, with other towns across North America having their own weather-predicting rodents.

These range from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck and even Shubenacadie Sam in Canada.

Is Punxsutawney Phil ever right?

According to the science, there is no correlation between a Groundhog spotting its own shadow and the continuation of winter or arrival of spring.

When looking at the Groundhog Club’s records, the Punxsutawney Phils through the years have predicted 103 forecasts of more winter and 20 early springs.

Data shows these predictions are right, on average, 39 percent of the time.

What has Phil predicted this year?

As yet Punxsutawney Phil has not made his prediction, but will update this page once he has.

You can watch as the groundhog forecasts whether there will be more winter days or an early spring via live stream.

To watch the stream, you can do so here on

Phil’s live stream will begin at 6.30am US time, which in the UK will be 11.30am GMT.

Why a groundhog?

Groundhogs – also known as woodchucks – hibernate during the winter months in burrows underground.

They then emerge in February – not to predict the weather, but to find a mate – before retreating back to their burrows until March.

The use of groundhogs in predicting the seasons comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition if a groundhog leaving its burrow on February 2 day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will head back into its burrow and winter weather will continue for six more weeks.

However, if it does not see its shadow because of cloudy skies, spring will arrive early.

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