The History of Punsxutawney Phil

Ever wanted to know what Groundhog Day was actually all about? What the history is behind Punsxutawney Phil? Read on!

Groundhog Day, although now an American practice, has its roots in Germany. There is a German tradition that goes along the lines that if the sun comes out on Candlemas (also known as Imbolc) the hedgehog will see its shadow and as a result six more weeks of winter will follow. Mixed in with the early settlers to America were also a fair number of Germans – they simply brought the practice over with them and used groundhogs rather than hedgehogs.

1886 is the first recorded or official Groundhog Day and was celebrated on February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The following year there was the now legendary first trip to Gobbler’s Knob to carry out the practice. The group that led the day became known as “The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.” Clymer Freas, the editor of The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper and also member of the the club, used his position to declare that Phil, the Punxsutawney Groundhog, was the one and only official weather predicting groundhog. Thus Punxsutawney Phil was born.

Facts about Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney and Punsxutawney Phil

What does Punxsutawney mean?
The name Punxsutawney comes from the Indian “ponksad-uteney” which means the “town of the sandflies.” The location was originally settled by Delaware Indians in 1723.

Where is Punxsutawney?
Punxsutawney is located in Western Pennsylvania.

Where did Punsxutawney Phil get his name from?
This name is actually the shortened version of his official title which is “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.” The groundhog got his name from the editor of the The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper.

How old is Phil?
Locals claim that Phil is than 100 years old.

Does Phil live at Gobbler’s Knobb all year?
No. Most of his time is spent relaxing in a climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library. For Groundhog Day he is taken to Gobbler’s Knob, waits in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump and is then pulled out at 7:25 am on Groundhog Day, February 2, to give us his weather prediction.

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