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The Legend of Groundhog Day

Cristina Romano

Photo: Punxsutawney Phil prepares for his close-up (courtesy of NY Daily News)

Today is Groundhog Day and you know the drill – if the groundhog sees his shadow we are stuck with six more weeks of winter (as if we need more snow!) If he doesn’t, we get an early spring. In fact, this year marks the 125th annual celebration of the Groundhog Day festivities in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where most of America relies on Punxsutawney Phil to come out of his burrow early in the morning for his annual weather prediction. According to the Huffington Post, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow a total of 97 times over the past 125 years, giving him a 39% accuracy rating according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The tradition of celebrating Groundhog Day began back in the 1800s, according to Groundhog.org, when early Pennsylvanian settlers brought with them the legend of “Candlemas Day” which states “For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May.” So basically it is just a more complicated way of saying “if the groundhog sees its shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter.”

However, here in New York we have our own famous groundhog – Charles G. Hogg, or better known to most people as “Staten Island Chuck” or “the groundhog who bit Mayor Bloomberg in 2009” Residing at the Staten Island Zoo, Chuck, according to The Staten Island Advance, has a higher accuracy rating than Punxsutawney Phil, even though he has only been “famous” since 1981. Since then, he has predicted 22 out of the past 29 years correctly, giving him an approximate 76% accuracy rating overall.

So which groundhog will you go by? Punxsutawney Phil or Staten Island Chuck? Luckily, it doesn’t matter much: neither groundhog saw its shadow this morning, so all reports are pointing to an early spring. After these last few weeks, here’s hoping!

Categories: National News
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