WASHINGTON – In a colorful annual ritual of dubious accuracy, the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow Sunday and saw his shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of winter.
The Pennsylvania rodent is the most famous of the furry weather forecasters for Groundhog Day, an event with early roots in German folklore. A long line of groundhogs bearing the same name have been national stars. One was at the center of the 1993 Bill Murray comedy “Groundhog Day.”
According to legend, if Phil had not seen his shadow, then spring would soon be on its way, bringing relief to a nation that has survived an especially harsh winter. But instead, the groundhog purportedly announced:
“That’s not a football lying beside me,
“It’s my shadow you see
“So, six more weeks of winter it shall be!”
The proclamation referred to Sunday’s other big event: the Super Bowl, held outside for the first time this year.
Groundhog Day falls on Feb. 2 each year, attracting large crowds to the little Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney.
It started with a German tradition in which farmers closely monitored the animal’s behavior to make decisions about when their fields should be planted. The town, which claims to have held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800s, is the undisputed headquarters for the unscientific experiment.