America’s Sweetheart: Punxsutawney Phil
Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who has the power to change Americans’ hopes for an early spring, is arguably one of the most well-known animals with a sixth sense. Each year on February 2nd, crowds gather to observe the groundhog as he ventures from underground to the surface. According to popular belief, if the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
The Groundhog Day tradition links back hundreds of years to Candlemas Day, when an animal, usually a hedgehog, would be brought out if the sun made an appearance, hence casting a shadow and predicting six more weeks of bad weather. Early believers called this continuation of dreary weather a “Second Winter.”
Over the years, Punxsutawney Phil has grown increasingly popular. In 1995, he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, and in 2001, his prediction was broadcasted live on the JumboTron in Times Square. Sadly, despite all of the press and fan attention, Punxsutawney Phil incorrectly predicts the continuation of winter weather more than 50% of the time. Maybe his sixth sense isn’t so good after all.