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  • February 2012
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Phil: The Psychic Groundhog

Punxsutawney Phil, “Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary” emerges from his den on February 2nd, Groundhog Day and if he sees his shadow,  that’s six more weeks of winter for us! (Potter)

Ever wonder why we put so much stock in this silly groundhog? Well, I have. Where do I turn for answers – you ask? Why the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s free online databases!

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just Google it?  Why didn’t I just turn to Wikipedia?

I don’t trust Wikipedia.  I don’t. And you can’t make me.

Call me crazy, but the fact is that anyone can change anything in any article on Wikipedia.  To me – that’s just an unsound resource and I like a sure thing – something I can trust.  So, that’s why I go to the free online library databases.

Courtesy of Aaron e. Silvers on Flickr

Some interesting little known facts about Groundhog Day:

Researchers don’t seem to agree on the origin of this most strange event, which is probably the result of our modern understanding of Groundhog Day evolving from a combination of many sources.

  • According to one source, Groundhog Day comes from “an ancient European superstition that if any-hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks”. (Popular Mechanics)
  • According to another source, Groundhog Day stems from the celebration of Candlemas Day, the ancient festival of lights celebrated in Europe to mark the middle of winter.  The Scots would say, “If Candlemas Day is bright and clear/There’ll be two winters in the year”. (“ALMANAC”)

The most popular groundhog day ceremony began in 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania about 90 miles away from Pittsburgh at the Gobbler’s Knob about 1 mile outside of town. (Potter)

  • The inner circle of the Punxsatawney Groundhog Club put on top hats and tails for the event – very fancy!
  • The Punxatawney Groundhog Club has kept records for most of the years from the beginning until now (missing 9 years, for some unknown reason).  Their records indicate that Phil has seen his shadow 96 times and has not seen it 14 times! (Potter)

For more excellent information on this topic and more, be sure to turn to our online databases and remember to ask a librarian to help you, if you’re having a hard time finding what you need!

~LeeAnn Anna

Sources Cited:

“ALMANAC.” National Geographic Feb. 2001: XV. Academic OneFile. Web. 25 Jan. 2012.

Popular Mechanics Feb. 2005: 18. Academic OneFile. Web. 25 Jan. 2012.

Potter, Sean. “February 2, 1886: the first groundhog day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.” Weatherwise Jan.-Feb. 2008: 16+. Gale Science In Context. Web. 30 Jan. 2012.)

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