Groundhog Day

Kyler Terry, 10th Grade BC ECHS

Kyler Terry

Every year on February 2, Americans turn their eyes to Punxsutawney Phil to predict a late spring or an early winter. February 2 is a significant date as the Christian tradition of Candlemas falls on this date. Unironically, February 2 is halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.


According to, on Candlemas, “clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter.” These candles represented the long and cold winter ahead. Germans then expanded on this idea by selecting a hedgehog to predict the weather. If the hedgehog saw its shadow, it would run back to its burrow, therefore predicting a late winter. If the hedgehog did not see its shadow and stayed outside of its burrow, an early spring was predicted.


When Germans immigrated to the United States, they continued this tradition, but they had to substitute the hedgehog for a groundhog. The first Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.


A common question, however, is how accurate is Punxsutawney Phil at predicting the forecast? According to, It turns out that he is not very accurate, with an accuracy rate of 39%. He does have a 47% accuracy rate when it comes to the seven times he has predicted an early spring. However, that is still no better than a coin flip.


Some might argue that although Phil has a low accuracy rate, he is better than any meteorologist at predicting the weather. Meteorologists are not perfect as meteorology is an inexact science, but according to David Unger, “Compared to the terms with which Groundhog Day predictions are made… our forecasts are about 60 percent accurate, or higher.” 


So, although Groundhog Day is an exciting tradition that has been celebrated for over a century, it is wisest to rely on meteorologists that have a much higher accuracy rate.