The February 2nd tradition of predicting the arrival of spring actually predates any groundhog link, stretching back to the ancient Christian holiday of Candlemas. According to an old English rhyme:
“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight;
But if it be dark with clouds and rain, winter is gone and will not come again.”
The idea arrived in the U.S. with European immigrants. Though there are many events, the most celebrated is in Punxsutawney, PA. Each year, a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his winter’s nap at a place called Gobbler’s Knob. (In fact, he’s looking for a mate.) Tradition holds that if Phil sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. No shadow, and an early spring is on the way. Today’s forecast for the Coastal Bend area includes sunshine and partial clouds.
A few years back, actor Bill Murray played in the Movie Groundhog Day about a TV reporter who traveled to Punxsutawney, PA. to cover the annual observance of the event. With no real explanation of why, the Reporter found himself in something of a time-warp in which he relived the same day and occurrences for several days. Then, after some self-reflection at how selfish, self-centered, and rude he had become . . . the time-warp ended and he emerged from the experience as a nicer person.