COVID-19 Groundhog Day: Phil Says Six Weeks of Winter Left

In these days of pandemic, every day seems like Groundhog Day from the famous film by actor Bill Murray (Trapped in Time, in Spain) with the rhythms set by restrictions, curfews and perimeter closures. However, today was the true, unique and genuine Groundhog Day, the one that meteorologist Phil Connors was supposed to broadcast, in the movie.

On Groundhog Day the rodent Phil predicts whether spring will come early or winter will be late. Well, there will be six more weeks of winter, the groundhog said as it emerged from its burrow on a snowy Tuesday morning to do its Groundhog Day duties.

Members of Phil’s “inner circle” woke up the furry critter at 7:25 am at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to see if he saw his shadow or not.

Shortly after this year’s prediction was revealed, one of the inner circle members shared a message that he claimed Phil had written to him earlier that day: “After winter, one of the brightest and most beautiful springs awaits you. that you’ve ever seen. “

Another member of the “inner circle” pointed out the uniqueness of the year that we have passed.

“People have referenced Groundhog Day. Sometimes we have had the feeling of having lived the same day over and over again,” said one of the members. “Groundhog Day also shows us that the monotony ends. The cycle is broken. Today is really Groundhog Day, there is only one,” he added. “There is literally a new day on the horizon.”

Virtual Groundhog Day

The Groundhog Day show was kept as tradition dictates, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, fans of the meteorological oracle were unable to see Phil or celebrate in person: this year, it was all virtual and as in soccer, it was they installed cardboard cutouts to represent the spectators.

A live broadcast, which had more than 15,000 viewers at one point, played back footage from previous Groundhog Days before the big reveal.

And of course the tipster of tipsters appeared at dawn. Tradition says that if you see your shadow like this year, there will be six more weeks of winter. If you don’t, spring will come early.

Dressed in top hats, the club members summoned Phil from a new tree stump.

“You look gorgeous,” club president Jeff Lundy told Phil, who directed the members to one of the two scrolls.

A club member announced: “We have all passed through the darkness of the night, but now we see hope in the bright morning light. But now when I turn around, there is a perfect shadow cast over me.”

Live broadcasting from Gobbler’s Knob, a small hill outside Punxsutawney, about 105 kilometers northeast of Pittsburgh, is made possible by the Pennsylvania Tourist Board’s Holi-stay PA program. The event held there – always on February 2 – dates back to 1887.

This year, like many others, Phil gave his forecast during a major snowstorm that affected the entire Northeast.

A folklore of German origin with 135 years of history

The annual event has its origins in a legend from medieval Europe. These rodents and other hibernating animals were believed to emerge from their burrows on this day. If the day was sunny and the animal saw its shadow when it came out, it meant that there were six more weeks of winter left.

German emigrants took the legend and began to celebrate it in Pennsylvania back in 1887, substituting a marmot for the badger.

This period that falls right between the winter solstice and the Spring equinox is celebrated in many cultures (it coincides with Carnival, this year also very disfigured by the coronavirus).

Records dating back to the late 19th century show that Phil has predicted longer winters more than 100 times. The 2020 forecast called for an early spring, but Phil said nothing about a pandemic.

In its 135-year history, Phil has predicted winter 106 times and spring 20 times, according to the club. Ten years were lost because no records were kept.

Punxsutawney Phil may be the marmot’s most famous seer, but he’s not the only one. There are two other “high-profile imposters,” as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club calls them, in the region.

Connecticut celebrated Groundhog Day with a hedgehog who made the prediction after the state’s official groundhog, Chuckles X, died last year. Like Phil, Phoebe predicted another six weeks of winter after seeing her shadow at the Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester.

The Staten Island groundhog in New York disagreed, predicting an early spring in video posted on the Staten Island Zoo Facebook page.

“We’re going to have an early spring! Spring is coming,” said Brian Gomez, event sponsor Investors Bank, in a video message.

Will tradition or new generations win?