The History Behind Groundhog Day

February 2nd is Groundhog Day. There is history behind this folklore and the annual ceremony in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Groundhog Day was first documented by storekeeper James Morris of Morgantown, Pennsylvania on Feb 4th, 1841. He states: ‘Last Tuesday the 2nd was Candlemas Day, the day of which according to the Germans the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow, he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day is cloudy, he remains out as the weather is to be moderate.’

This diary entry offers some meteorology. Winter surface high pressure in the eastern US often results in sunny skies and cold temperatures. So if the Groundhog finds sunshine on Feb 2nd, winter is still likely in progress. If it is cloudy, then a more moderate weather pattern is already underway.

Since 1886, Groundhog Day has been celebrated on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney each year on Feb 2nd. This year’s celebration will be the 136th that attracts thousands of visitors to witness Punxsutawney Phil come out of his burrow and make his folklore weather prediction. According to, this year’s festivities in Punxsutawney are sold out. But no worries – you can watch Phil make his legendary prediction on the Visit Pennsylvania streaming website. It will occur at approximately 6:30am EST, which is 3:30am PST, so unless you work nightshift or an insomniac, you can catch the replays later.

Does Punxsutawney Phil’s weather forecast apply to the North Sound? In reality, no, since the weather and climate in the Keystone State is so much different than this region. But it is still fun to learn what Phil sees when he pops out of his burrow. Maybe someone here in the North Sound should have a pet groundhog, and see what he or she has to say about it each year.