10 Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhog Day

Statue of Punxsutawney Phil

Punxsutawney Phil by Shannon Ramos

Happy Groundhog Day! Rock Bottom T-Shirts is celebrating today by sharing 10 fun Groundhog Day facts with you.

1. Where does the name Punxsutawney come from?

The name Punxsutawney comes from the Native Americans that settled the town in the 1700’s. The name (ponksad-uteney) translates to “town of the sandflies.”

2. How old is Punxsutawney Phil?

According to the Inner Circle, the group who promotes Groundhog Day, Phil is said to be over 125 years old.  Since the typical groundhog lives five to eight years, Phil’s age is an anomaly.  However, the Inner Circle attributes Phil’s longevity to a secret liquid potion they give him once every year.

3. Are groundhogs the same as woodchucks?

Yes, the term woodchuck (name also adopted from Native Americans) is just another name for groundhogs.  Groundhogs are actually members of the rodent family, and their closest cousin is the squirrel.

4. Will Phil be replaced by a robotic groundhog?

In 2010 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote a letter to Bill Deeley, the president of the Inner Circle, suggesting Phil’s retirement to a sanctuary away from things that aren’t natural to groundhogs. The letter advocated replacing Phil with an electronic groundhog that can accurately predict the winter.

Although I’m hearing that retirement is not in Phil’s immediate cards the lure of a beach chair for he and Phyllis could become too much for the pair to resist.  One thing is certain though, whatever the couple decides Mr. Woodchuck-Bot will never wander too far from the fray.

5. Is Phil Accurate?

Punxsutawney Phil has witnessed his own shadow 97 times.  Alternatively, there were 15 times that he emerged from his burrow and didn’t see his shadow.  As for the other 9 years, they are mysteriously unaccounted for.  While the Inner Circle says Phil’s accuracy is 100%, the National Climatic Data Center clocks Phil’s accuracy at 39%.

6. Why Feb. 2?

Feb. 2 is what’s known as a cross-quarter day which means it’s the midway point between the winter solstice in December and the vernal equinox in March.  Some cultures have celebrated this date as the midpoint of winter, and Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers celebrated February 2nd as Candlemas Day.  The legend of Candlemas Day states, “For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”. Interestingly, this date occurs very close to the time that most groundhogs awake from hibernation.

7. Do all groundhogs predict the winter or is it just Phil?

Yes and no.  Although he’s probably the most well-known winter predicting groundhog, Phil has competition.  There are actually a number of other well-known groundhogs throughout the US who also predict the winter.  Though depending upon who you talk to, the word “predict” could be subject to interpretation. J

8. How long have we celebrated Groundhog Day?

The first officially recorded Groundhog Day took place on February 2nd, 1887. Today’s prediction makes number 125.

9. Does Phil live on Gobbler’s Knob year around?

No, Phil’s real home is a burrow in the Punxsutawney Zoo where Phil resides with his wife Phyllis. The only time Phil actually spends in the tree stump on Gobbler`s Knob is one night out of the year-the night of Feb 1.

10. Is there anything else special about Feb 2?

As a matter of fact there is one more thing you may not have known.  February 2 is also the day that Rock Bottom T-Shirts runs its Groundhog Day special on select ladies items.  If Phil sees his shadow, meaning 6 more weeks of winter, you’ll receive 20% off all Ladies long sleeve, fleece and thermal items.  If Phil does not see his shadow, meaning an early Spring, you’ll receive 20% off all Ladies short sleeve and tank items.  To see which items ended up on sale, click here.

Edit: The YouTube video version of this post can be found below.

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Filed under holidays, news

4 responses to “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhog Day

  1. Katharina

    Great post, wonderful site design, continue the great work

  2. Pingback: Pantone: 2011 Spring Color Report | Rock Bottom T-Shirts Blog

  3. Pingback: Happy Groundhog Trivia 2012 | Rock Bottom T-Shirts Blog

  4. Pingback: Groundhog’s Day Trivia 2012 | Rock Bottom T-Shirts Blog

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