Almost time to flip the calendar to February and Groundhog Day

Published 12:27 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

After Sunday, there is only two days left in January, and we flip the calendar. And, staring us in the eye is Groundhog Day, which is Thursday. Unless you’re in Punxsutawney, Pa., on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day may not seem like much of a holiday. The tradition is pretty simple: A rodent named Phil pops out of a “burrow.” If it’s sunny and he sees his shadow, it’s said to mean six more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy and he doesn’t see his shadow, it’s said to mean an early spring. Phil is North America’s most famous weather predictor.
Who needs the National Weather Service when you have a celebrity woodchuck on the case?
But, here in our little nook of Northeast Tennessee, we are hoping for both sunshine and an early spring — not six more weeks of winter weather.
The seasonal tradition of Groundhog Day goes back a long, long way. Groundhog Day is an astronomy holiday, falling approximately midway between the December solstice and the March equinox.
How accurate is Phil? NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center says Phil’s forecasts have shown no predictive skill in recent years. Phil gets it right about 40 percent of the time.
The celebration of Groundhog Day came to America along with immigrants from Great Britain and Germany. The tradition can be traced to early Christians in Europe, when a hedgehog was said to look for his shadow on Candlemas Day.
Try this old English rhyme: If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight. But if it be dark with clouds and rain, winter is gone and will not come again until December.
Perhaps we look forward to Groundhog Day, because once it gets here, we are looking at winter in the rearview mirror and spring is just ahead — garden time, baseball, jonquils and hyacinths pushing through the ground and warmer weather is just ahead. It’s a time of hope and renewal.
So whether the groundhog sees it shadow or not Thursday, it doesn’t really matter because springtime is on the way — new hope and new beginnings.
One final note. It’s supposed to be bad luck to leave your Christmas decorations up after Groundhog Day.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox