Punxsutawney Phil

Have you seen the movie "groundhog day"? This movie was very popular in German speaking Europe in the mid nineties under the title "Und täglich grüsst das Murmeltier." It is about a news reporter who ends up doing a live broadcast in a Pennsylvania town of name Punxsutawney. The reporter gets up at 6am in the morning when the radio alarm sets off with a specific tune. He reports on Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog that predicts by its shadow if the winter is going to end or last for another six weeks. If he sees his shadow, be prepared for six more weeks of winter weather. If there is no shadow to be found, then spring is just around the corner!

The story in the movie is that the news reporter wakes up the next day and the day repeats itself, same tune on the radio, same groundhog, same people he meets. The day repeats several times and the poor man tries to break the circle by trying different behaviors and actions each day.

The star of the movie is Phil though, a very cute groundhog. And the good news is - if you haven't know it yet: Phil exists!
One of those days we were greeted from the radio with "Happy Groundhog Day!" It turned out that Feb 2 was groundhog day. And indeed, people would greet you with "Happy groundhog day," at least if you live on the East coast somewhat close to Pennsylvania (in particular on TV and radio stations, of course).

For this year he predicted six more weeks of winter, and boy he was right! Two weeks later we had two feet of snow in one night! On the long run though someone counted that he is right in about 50 percent of the cases.

Check the Web page http://www.groundhog.org/ for more details.

Some photos from the 2003 event from http://pittsburgh.about.com/:
The Inner Circle, renowned members of the society, with Phil
The scene of the event: Gobbler's Knob

The full story can be read on http://www.punxsutawneyphil.com/.

The Pittsburgh Internet page (http://pittsburgh.about.com/library/weekly/aa012501a.htm gives more details:

What in the Heck is Groundhog Day Anyway?
The Origins of Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil, and Other Famous Groundhogs

A German tradition holds that if the sun comes out on Candlemas, the precursor to Groundhog Day, the hedgehog (or badger) will see its shadow and six more weeks of winter will follow. When German settlers came to Pennsylvania they continued this tradition, using groundhogs instead of hedgehogs to predict the weather.

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.
The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper's editor, Clymer Freas: "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow." The legendary first Groundhog Day trip to Gobbler's Knob was made the following year by a group of spirited groundhog hunters who dubbed themselves "The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." Clymer, a member of the club, used his editorial clout to proclaim that Phil, the Punxsutawney Groundhog, was the one and only official weather prognosticating groundhog.

Phil's fame began to spread and newspapers from around the world began to report his predictions. Growing legions of fans started making the trek to Punxsutawney every February 2, and with the release of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, the crowds began to number in the tens of thousands. Phil's yearly Groundhog Day predictions are actually even entered into the Congressional Record!

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