What happened on Groundhog Hog Day in 2021?
Today is Groundhog Day and as we wait for this year's prediction, we took a look at the outcome from the event in Gobbler's Knob in Pennsylvania last year.
On 2 February, following centuries-old tradition, a groundhog by the name of Punxsutawney Phil will rise from his slumber to cast his prediction for the next six weeks. Every year, since 1886, onlookers gather at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to hear what Phil has to say.
Last year's spectacle was marked by the pandemic with no crowds able to attend the event, hosted by the city's Groundhog Club. Each year, members of the club's ‘Inner Circle’ to pass on Punxsutawney Phil's declaration to those following along online.
The lore goes that if Phil sees his shadow "he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole." However, if it is a cloudy day, and he is unable to see his shadow "he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground," meaning that spring will soon come.
What did Punxsutawney Phil predict in 2021?
The Pennsylvania tradition of Groundhog Day sees a prognosticating groundhog make a prediction on 2 February each year, deciding whether spring is here, or if six more weeks of winter are on the way.
The process start when the critter, known as Punxsutawney Phil, is woken by his inner circle to cast a prediction on the changing of the seasons. He ‘announces’ his prediction to them and they dutifully pass on the news to the watching crowds.
Last year, with snow on the ground, Phil did see his shadow and the message interpreted was that there would be six more weeks of winter on the cards. However, for those who were eager for spring may have felt relieved when pne of his inner circle said after the announcement: "After winter, you're looking forward to one of the most beautiful and brightest springs you've ever seen."
Punxsutawney tradition immortalised in film
The celebration of ‘Groundhog Dog’ in the United State goes back into the 19th century as Pennsylvania residents eagerly awaited news about the arrival of spring. They tradition goes that if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on the second day of February, another six weeks of winter are on the way.
The earliest recorded mention of this come from the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper from 1886, which read: "up to the time of going to press, the beast has not seen its shadow".
Groundhog Day was immortalised in the 1993 film of the same name starring Bill Murray. In the film Murray’s character is forced to relive the same day over and over again.
With pandemic restrictions still in place across the US some have been comparing that Groundhog Day experience to the current situation, but Punxsutawney Phil’s inner circle thinks otherwise:
"People have been referencing Groundhog Day. It has felt like at times we're all living the same day over and over again," one of the members said. "Groundhog Day also shows us that the monotony ends. The cycle will be broken."
"Today actually is Groundhog Day, there's only one," he added. "There is quite literally a new day coming over the horizon."