First Arriving Network
First Arriving Network

Saturday Morning – February 2

Groundhog Day!

Update, 7:28 am:  No shadow today = early Spring!  Scroll down for latest.
Update #2, 7:50 am:  Video now added.

Welcome to Groundhog Day, one and all. I don’t think there is anybody on the face of the earth who isn’t wishing that he predicts an early end to this winter. In many places this has been an especially cold winter. So let’s hope that Punxsutawny Phil does NOT see his shadow this morning. And while we are waiting I will reprise our annual essay on the history of Groundhog Day. Enjoy:

This is Groundhog Day, did you remember? This whimsical celebration has been carried out for 120+ years now and has become a harmless way to take a moment to lighten up and look forward to Spring, which is bound to come anyway.

February 2nd has been the Christian feast day known as Candlemas since the very early days of the Catholic church and was based on the even-older Mosaic tradition of the Fortieth Day. It is also deliberately timed to occur at the midpoint between the Winter Solstice (first day of Winter) and the Vernal Equinox (first day of Spring).

The multitude of German immigrants who populated the bulk of Pennsylvania brought the Candlemas celebration with them to the New World and in the 1880′s a hunting club in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, held a groundhog hunt every Candlemas.

In 1887 the editor of the local newspaper, who was a member of the club, promoted the hunt and announced that their ancient tradition of using rodents (badgers were used in Europe) to predict the coming of Spring would be practiced in Punxsutawney with their own pet groundhog. And the rest, as they say, is history. According to tradition, if a groundhog peeps out from his burrow following his winter hibernation and sees his shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter weather. A dull or overcast day preventing his shadow from being cast will announce the coming of an early Spring.

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.

This year’s sunrise in Western Pennsylvania is around 7:26 am. We’ll keep an eye on the raucus Groundhog party that’s been going on all night and update this post when the results are in.

Update, 7:28 am:  Early Spring!
About 30,000 frigid Phil fans gathered at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney this morning to witness the overcast sky preventing Phil from seeing his shadow, thus portending an early Spring this year.  Good luck to one and all.

This morning's video report is just in:


While we’re waiting, let’s get this equipment checked out. We’re going to need plenty of coffee, so I’ll make some extra while you get started. I’ll have the tv on back in the day room for the ritual plucking of Phil from his burrow.

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