This morning, Groundhog Phil saw his shadow in the little town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. About an hour later, Washington D.C.'s winter prognosticator, Potomac Phil duplicated the experiment.
Folklore has it we're in for another six weeks of winter. If he'd not seen a shadow, spring would spring early this year.
I've always wondered if our friend Phil's predicts the coming of spring accurately. He's had a lot of experience. Since the Groundhog’s first prediction in 1887, Phil's shadow has frightened him back into the ground 99 times. He failed to spot it just 16 times and nine years have no record.
Historically winter tends to last well into March (and in some northern locations later). The year's coldest quarter, also known as meteorological winter, runs from December 5 to March 5. We're not surprised the little guy gets it right most of the time.
The groundhog legend followed immigrants to the new world. In Europe, the hedgehog was said to look for his shadow on Candlemas Day. If it was cloudy, then winter would end soon.
But hey! We've got a bright, sunny day. Let's put on some polka music and dance. Then make groundhog-shaped cookies, and top the celebration off with a puppet show featuring -- of course -- groundhog hand puppets!
Or so says a friend of mine from the East coast. She saw celebrants wearing groundhog hats, groundhog costumes and even a penguin suit. Recorded polka music encouraged adults and kids to dance in the street.
It's sunny. It's almost spring. Let's celebrate!