Published On: Feb 01 2012 07:38:49 PM CSTUpdated On: Feb 02 2016 09:44:45 AM CST
Now that Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring, learn a little more about where this Groundhog Day tradition comes from.
The first recorded Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, was on Feb. 2, 1886. Punxsutawney is located in west-central Pennsylvania, about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Each year, tens of thousands of tourists jam into the small Pennsylvania town to celebrate Phil's arrival.
Much is made about Phil himself, but the festivities around Groundhog Day are plentiful. There's a chili cook-off, ice carving exhibitions, Prognosticators Ball sleigh rides, music, food, fun and games.
The reason for German undertones in Groundhog Day is that it is a very old tradition and the earliest settlers in Pennsylvania were German.
A similar custom takes place in Germany on June 27 called "Siebenschläfertag." If it rains that day, the rest of summer is supposedly going to be rainy.
Serbia celebrates a yearly event that is strikingly similar to Groundhog Day as well. It is celebrated among Orthodox Christians in the country on Feb. 15 each year. If it is sunny and clear, then winter is not over yet. If it is cloudy, winter is about to end.
Punxsutawney Phil is the most well-known, but more than a dozen states celebrate with their own groundhogs, such as Georgia's Gen. Beauregard Lee and Buckeye Chuck in Ohio. Pictured here is Staten Island Chuck, who makes his own annual prediction from New York City's Staten Island Zoo.
According to tradition, the men wearing top hats who lead the Punxsutawney Phil ceremony are known as the "Inner Circle."
There are 15 members of the Inner Circle and each of them has a title that ranges from President and Secretary/Treasurer to Thunder Conductor, Iceman and His Protector.
Continuing to keep up with technology, Phil has been updating his Facebook page and tweeting his predictions for several years now.
As to Phil's accuracy, according to the StormFax Weather Almanac and records kept since 1887, Phil's predictions have been correct 39 percent of the time.
As the tradition goes, if Phil sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. Of the 120 predictions on record so far, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring 18 times.
Phil's real name is "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinaire."
While the 1993 comedy "Groundhog Day," starring Bill Murray as an arrogant and egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who finds himself in a time loop, forced to repeat Groundhog Day over and over again, has brought more attention and bigger crowds to Punxsutawney since its release, it was actually filmed for the most part in Woodstock, Illinois.
A plan to have fresh water from an ocean desalination plant flowing into the system by October in Santa Barbara is behind schedule and that's causing concerns. A new schedule shows drinking water won't be produced, tested and approved until January.
One of the largest bank branches around is closed and customers are feeling left out in the cold. The Bank of America on upper State St. and Hope Ave. is closed and customers say it's been that way for days.