PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (ABC4) — Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow Friday to show the world what to expect for the rest of the winter. He did not see his shadow, meaning an early spring is on its way.
When Phil is not predicting weather outcomes, he can be found in his manmade burrow with his wife, Phyllis, or making appearances in schools, parades, or at professional sporting events as a guest of honor. He also enjoys a good book and reading the daily newspaper, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.
According to the club, there has been only one Punxsutawney Phil since 1886. He gets his longevity from drinking the “elixir of life,” a secret recipe, according to the club. He reportedly takes one sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life. (EDITOR’s NOTE: ABC4 has not been able to independently verify the “elixir of life.” We’re taking their word on this one.)
It has also been confirmed that Phyllis does not share in the “elixir.”
“She doesn’t receive the Elixir of Life so she will not live forever like Phil,” states the club’s website, somewhat bluntly.
One thing Phil does not do during the rest of the year is: hibernate.
“This is because he lives in a climate-controlled environment,” states the club’s website. “In the wild, groundhogs are signaled when to hibernate by the change in the daylight hours. In Phil’s burrow, the lights are consistent year-round and so is the temperature. He is fed and cared for every day, so he does not have to search for food. In the winter months, he does slow down, eats less, and sleeps more, but he doesn’t hibernate.”
If you have more questions about Phil, the club’s website has an FAQ.
The legend behind Phil
The legend of Punxsutawney Phil is associated with the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, celebrated on Feb. 2, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles reportedly represented how long and cold the winter would be.
The tradition eventually made its way to Germany, which introduced an animal to the lore. According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, the Germans selected an animal — the hedgehog — to predict the weather. Legend has it that if the hedgehog saw his shadow on Candlemas Day there would be a “second winter,” or six more weeks of bad weather.
When German settlers came to the U.S. they brought the lore with them, although with the lack of hedgehogs, a different hibernating animal was chosen: the groundhog.
Today, Groundhog Day remains the same as it began: “a day to take everything a little less seriously, and break up the winter monotony,” the club states.
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