Groundhog Day isn’t all about Bill Murray! The bizarre weather celebration is about to have its 131st birthday and we’ve locked down five incredible facts about the holiday that will blow your mind.
Before Andie MacDowell became a running joke on New Girl, Groundhog Day was taken very seriously in the Pennsylvania town that blessed the holiday unto America. Truth be told, it still is taken very seriously in Punxsutawney, PA. And while most people have a general understanding of Punxsutawney Phil and his weather-forecasting shadow, we’ve uncovered some truly incredible facts that have made the bizarre celebration what it is in 2017.
1. Punxsutawney Phil is immortal.
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club refers to the famed rodent as “the only true weather forecasting” groundhog. They further assert that there has only been one Punxsutawney Phil and he has been predicting weather for 131 years. His never-ending life is the result of an “elixir of life” or “groundhog punch” that’s given to Phil every summer during the Annual Groundhog Picnic. Each drink of the potion allegedly gives him 7 more years of life.
2. An “Inner Circle” of men is charged with caring for the legendary animal and planning the annual celebration.
Almost similar to the fraternal orders made famous, and oftentimes villainous, in storytelling, the Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle have been in charge of keeping the Groundhog Day tradition alive. You’ve probably noticed the top hat-wearing gentlemen if you catch the festivities on TV. In addition to looking snazzy, they plan each year’s event and are the ones who mix up Phil’s “elixir of life.” “I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me,” responds a current member on the Circle’s website when asked what he might say to inquiring minds. “Seriously if I divulged any information about the Inner Circle, you’d be getting a visit from my uncle ‘Guido!’ Ha! Ha!”
3. Phil’s weather predictions are about as accurate as a coin toss.
Since 1988, the undying creature was, for the lack of a better word, right about spring’s arrival 14 out of 29 years. In case you’re unaware, winter is supposed to last an additional six weeks if Phil sees his shadow. If he doesn’t cast one, spring comes early. Fun fact: last year’s prediction came “true.” February and March 2016 were both warmer than average across the nation. Since the holiday made its first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob, where the shadow ceremony takes place, Phil has seen his shadow more than 102 times.
4. Groundhogs are one of the few animals that hibernate.
Bears are most famous for their hibernation tendencies, but groundhogs, snakes, bats, skunks, and bees also take extended slumbers. The practice isn’t the same as sleeping, though. It is actually more like a deep coma, where the animal lowers its body temperature to a few degrees above freezing. Their heart barely beats. Their blood scarcely flows. And their breathing nearly stops. It makes you wonder how irritating it is for Phil to be woken up for his annual drink of punch every summer.
5. Phil used to go by another name.
European immigrants brought what we now know as Groundhog Day with them when settling in Pennsylvania. Before they landed on the very casual “Phil,” the Germans referred to their eternal weatherman as Br’er Groundhog. He was eventually dubbed Punxsutawney Phil, thanks to references of the town that made Groundhog Day an annual holiday and a King Phillip [sic], according to the Groundhog Club.
HollywoodLifers, how many times have you seen the Bill Murray masterpiece Groundhog Day? Did any of our revelations change the way you look at Phil’s big day?