Begun in German Pennsylvania in 1886, Groundhog Day is an annual tradition celebrated in the United States and Canada to celebrate an early spring or mourn a prolonged winter.
It was born from European roots, where a sacred badger, hedgehog or even a bear would predict the weather with the date of their return from hibernation.
After settling in Pennsylvania, the Germans concluded that the groundhog, which so resembled the hedgehog, also had the wisdom to see its shadow and determine whether or not to go back into its hole.
Groundhog Day is celebrated every year on Feb. 2, most notably in Punxsutawney, Penn. by Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog.
More than 40,000 people flock annually to Punxsutawney to hear the groundhog speak his prediction in Groundhogese, a language only understood by the current president of the Inner Circle, a group of local dignitaries responsible for carrying out the tradition of Groundhog Day. It is then translated for the mass public.
Phil has had some notable moments in his life.
During Prohibition in the 1920s, Phil threatened 60 weeks of winter if he wasnâ€™t permitted to drink. In 1981, he wore a yellow ribbon to honor the Iranian hostages. He starred in the 1993 Columbia Pictures film â€œGroundhog Dayâ€ with Bill Murray, appeared on the Oprah Show in 1995 and has been broadcast live to Times Square.
As the legend goes, if the groundhog rises to see his shadow, he will resume hibernating, thinking the bad weather is still to come. If he does not see his shadow, he will assume that the bad weather has hit, and come out for spring.
Information gathered from http://www.groundhog.org, the official Web site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.