The legend of Groundhog Day started many centuries ago. Groundhog Day was founded in the traditions of the Romans, who carried the myth to the Germans during Roman invasions. The story was also based on this Scottish couplet: “If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.”
Candlemas Day is celebrated on February 2nd. It was determined that if any animal came out of its underground hibernation on that day, and the sun was out, there would be six more weeks of winter. Thus was born the tradition of the “two winters” or the “second winter.” What began as a tale from ancient times became fact in the early 1880’s, when a group of Punxsutawney residents decided to celebrate Candlemas Day by going to the woods in search of a groundhog. In 1886, the editor of the local newspaper named the group the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The Club deemed a certain hilltop near the town as “Gobbler’s Knob” proclaiming that, from this knob, Punxsutawney Phil could accurately forecast the weather. As news coverage of Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasts became more widespread, so did the interest in the legend. In July 1966, Gobbler’s Knob was officially opened year-round to the public. In 1986, Punxsutawney Phil and members of the Groundhog Club journeyed to Washington D.C. to visit President Ronald Reagan at the White House. In 1992, the movie “Groundhog Day”, starring Bill Murray, became a smash hit at theaters. Today, the popularity of Groundhog Day continues to grow.
As February 2nd approaches each year, the town of Punxsutawney comes alive with special events, celebrations, and fun activities to welcome thousands of visitors from around the world who come to enjoy the annual trek to see Punxsutawney Phil proclaim his forecast.
The highlight of Groundhog Day festivities is February 2nd, when Phil emerges from his burrow to let the world know if we will have six more weeks of winter or an early spring, but Groundhog Day is really a multi-day fun filled celebration. This year events start on Saturday January 30th and run through Groundhog Day. Here is a list of just some of the fun things to do in 2016, Breakfast will Phil, chainsaw carvings, scavenger hunts, art show, talent show, dance, banquet, Phil’s Birthday Party, Phantastic Phils walking tour, food and craft vendors, and so much more.
For more information on Groundhog Day events and activities call the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau at (814) 849-5197 or online at VisitPAGO.com.