Groundhog Day is nothing new to us, but what’s the deal with this holiday anyways? As we all know, Groundhog Day is a day where we wait to see how the weather will be for the rest of the winter. We wait to see the groundhog observe the weather conditions, and see if he can find his shadow, but how accurate is all of this really? Better yet, when did this huge tradition begin? Our agency wanted to dig deeper for the answers to these questions… let’s see what we found out!
The History of Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day takes place every year on February 2nd, and represents the triumph of the spring season over winter. Although, just how far back does this tradition stem from?
The first Groundhog Day took place back in 1887, featuring of course, a rodent meteorologist. Groundhog Day was first celebrated in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and they are serious about their weather forecasts there to this day. In fact, there is a groundhog in Pennsylvania named Punxsutawney Phil that comes out of his borough at 7:25 AM every year to give us the annual forecast, and the people of Pennsylvania all line up to see what will happen with Phil. Of course, if Phil sees his shadow, that indicates that there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, then spring should be right around the corner.
Since February 2nd falls directly in the middle of the winter and spring solstice, this day has been significant in both ancient and modern traditions. For instance, the Celts had celebrated this day as “Imbolc,” which was a pagan festival that marked the beginning of spring. Eventually, Imbolc evolved to Candlemas as Christianity spread throughout Europe, and it became a holy feast as part of the Christian faith. In certain parts of Europe, it was believed that a sunny Candlemas day mean that there would be another forty days of wintry weather, and vice versa. Although, Germans overtime had developed their own take on this Candlemas legend, and turned to rodents for their forecasts. They pronounced that the day was actually sunny only if badgers, hedgehogs or other small animals could see their own shadow. Eventually when Europe had traveled to America, they replaced the rodents with groundhogs, which were plentiful in Pennsylvania. Overall, that’s how we arrived at today’s modern day traditions!
How Accurate is Groundhog Day?
The age-old question of course, is “how accurate is Groundhog Day really?” We were curious as well, so we had to look more into it…
Over the years, Phil ended up seeing his shadow about 87% of the time, and realistically, that is a lot! That would mean the odds are for having six more weeks of winter whenever he sees his shadow, as a simple reminder. If we take a look at our winters here in the northeast for 2015 and 2016 though, we see that winter was nearly non-existent. That being said, Phil didn’t see his shadow, so he was spot on!
With Phil seeing his shadow the majority of the time, how accurate can this day really be? Well, if we take a look at 1969 moving forward, Phil unfortunately has been accurate about 36% of the time according to a study done by Weather Underground.
That being said, the people of Pennsylvania will never stop waiting for Phil and his forecast regardless! The holiday is a tradition at this point, and still worth celebrating regardless of the outcome.
This Year’s Forecast
So what is this year’s forecast looking like? Well, we checked Punxsutawney, PA’s forecast for February 2nd, and it’s looking quite cloudy. That would mean that the groundhog wouldn’t be able to see his shadow, and an early spring would be on the way based on Phil’s prediction. Although, there is still plenty of time for that forecast to change! We all know the weather can be unpredictable.
Similarly to the weather, life can be unpredictable as well, which is why we are so dedicated to making sure our customers are protected with the coverage they need. If you are ever concerned about your policy, coverages, or want to get a quote on a new insurance policy, reach out to one of our professional agents today! We’d be happy to help, and we promise you’ll have a pleasurable experience with our agency along the way.