The February 2 holiday
can be traced back to the ancient Christian celebration of Candlemas Day
, the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox where clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. Germany added something extra to these festivities: They used a hedgehog to predict the weather, saying if the hedgehog saw its shadow, they’d endure six more weeks of bad weather. Once they came to America, German settlers
in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs
, which were plentiful in the Keystone State. In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney
called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club
declared that Phil
, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog.