Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day: 5 Weird Things About This Tradition

Linda Sharps

Okay, so let me see if I've got this straight: every year on the second day of February, a bunch of people in Pennsylvania put on top hats and roust a 20-lb. rodent from its home in order to determine if said rodent sees his shadow or not. Based on the presence or absence of a shadow (in Pennsylvania), the remaining winter weather for the entirety of the United States is predicted.

The results of this year's highly scientific process tell us we're due for an early spring, so that's good news for most of you who are currently buried under 20 feet of snow. Don't worry! THE GIANT RAT SAID THIS WILL ALL GO AWAY SOON.

As if the annual rodent ritual isn't strange enough on its own, here are 5 more reasons to raise an eyebrow over the details of Groundhog Day:

• Punxsutawney Phil's official name makes him sound like a Harry Potter character. I'm sorry, but "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary"? That's a pretty fancy name for a creature that's commonly referred to as a "land-beaver."

• Punxsutawney is inappropriate for young children. Speaking of, ah, land-beaver, the location in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where 40,000 people gather each year for the famed shadow ceremony? Gobbler's Knob.

• Punxsutawney Phil doesn't even LIVE in the ground! For most of the year, Phil lives in a climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library. He is taken to Gobbler's Knob (har!) and placed in a heated burrow underneath a fake tree stump on stage before being pulled out at 7:25 a.m. Man. Letdown.

• Punxsutawney Phil is immortal. While groundhogs normally live only 6 to 8 years, Phil receives "a drink of a magical punch every summer during the annual Groundhog Picnic, which gives him 7 more years of life." BURN HIM HE'S A WITCH!

• Sarah Palin doesn't observe Groundhog Day. In 2009 then-Governor Sarah Palin signed a bill passed by the Alaska Legislature to change February 2 from Groundhog Day to Marmot Day. Supposedly because few groundhogs exist in the state, but maybe she just doesn't love America as much as she claims.

Image via Flickr/alemaxale

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