Groundhog Day is tomorrow
"That's right, woodchuck chuckers! Its (almost) Groundhog Day!" The question on everyone's "chapped" lips: Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow?Punxsutawney Pennsylvania is a 3.4 square mile town in Jefferson County. As of 2011, 5,395 people call this town, located 84 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, home!
Punxsutawney's Groundhog legend pre-dates its first white settlers.
The first inhabitants of the area, the Delaware Indians, shared in the Punxsutawney "Groundhog" legend with their own Indian version.
According to the creation story of the Delaware Indians, the "Lenni Lenape" (or original people), began life as animals in "mother earth" and emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men. This is how the Oijik (Wejak), or Wojak, now the Woodchuck, came to be the "grandfather" of the earliest inhabitants of the Punxsutawney area.
Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby is a longtime resident of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania.
While a groundhog's average lifespan is 10 years in captivity (and 6 years in the wild, according to zoologists), Phil has been forecasting the length of winters for over 120 years.
"Phil" fans says that there is only one Phil...that all other weather-hogs are "groundpigs," meaning imposters (sorry, Staten Island Chuck). They say that every summer, Phil is given a sip of mysterious Groundhog Elixir, which magically lengthens his life for seven years!
On February 2, Punxsutawney celebrates their beloved groundhog with a festive party...lots of music and food!
During the ceremony, which starts well before sunrise, Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler's Knob, about 2 miles east of town.
Tradition says that if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he has predicted six more weeks of winter weather.
If Phil does not see his shadow, he has predicted an early spring!
According to the Groundhog Club, Phil, after making the prediction, speaks to the Club President in a "Groundhogese," that only the current president can understand, and then his prediction is translated for the local crowd, and the world!
After his special day, "Groundhog Day," Phil lives/hibernates in the town library with his wife, Phyllis.
A select group, called the Inner Circle takes care of Phil year-round. They also plan the annual ceremony. Inner Circle members are recognized by their top hats and tuxedos.
Punxsutawney, Phil, and the ceremony were taken to a whole new level of celebrity, as they were portrayed in the 1993 Bill Murray comedy movie "Groundhog Day."
Its interesting to note that the Punxsutawney we see in this classic movie is actually Woodstock Illinois! Sorry to ruin the illusion...however, I can attest to the fact that Punxsutawney is a nice, friendly town...with the small-town atmosphere as portrayed in the movie! I passed through this quaint town in 1984, on a cross-country bicycle trip.
Last year, 2014, Phil forecast a long winter...what will happen tomorrow? Stay tuned!
Crank up "Sonny & Cher" in honor of the groundhog's big day...just don't break anything if it plays over and over....