When is Groundhog Day 2023? What to know about the annual winter tradition

Punxsutawney Phil looks for his shadow on Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, every year.
Punxsutawney Phil looks for his shadow on Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, every year.

Will winter ever end? It's time to find out.

The season's fate rests on the shoulders of one famous rodent: Punxsutawney Phil. Every year, the country anxiously awaits the return of the beloved Pennsylvania groundhog, who, legend has it, will determine whether we should bundle up for six more weeks of winter or prepare for an early spring.

So, what all is there to know about Groundhog Day, the 137-year-old American tradition? Here's a look.

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What is Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is rooted in the Christian holiday Candlemas, which is the midway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. During Candlemas, Christians would light candles to predict how long winter would last.

The first official Groundhog Day was Feb. 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to History.com, we can thank newspaper editor Clymer Freas for the special day, as he, along with a group of groundhog hunters, declared a groundhog from the town the official predictor.

Today, the ceremony is organized by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, which also cares for the groundhog year-round.

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When is Groundhog Day 2023?

Groundhog Day 2023 is Thursday, Feb. 2. It is not a federal holiday, meaning banks, mail services, trash services, schools, grocery stores, federal offices, local governments, libraries and stock markets will be open.

Festivities to celebrate the national treasure occur annually Feb. 2 in Punxsutawney, with talent shows, banquets and performances taking place throughout the day.

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What does it mean if the groundhog sees its shadow?

If Phil sees his shadow, we can theoretically expect six more weeks of winter weather. Last year, the groundhog predicted a longer winter.

But how accurate are Phil's predictions? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the groundhog possesses “no predictive skill,” and has only gotten it right about 40% of the time.

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Did Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow?

The arguably most famous groundhog in the world saw his shadow Thursday morning, meaning there will be six more weeks of winter weather.

Did Buckeye Chuck see his shadow?

The groundhog did not emerge from his bunker, which according to Ohio lore, which means six more weeks of winter.

Are there other animal forecasters?

Sorry, Phil. You're not the only animal meteorologist. Critters ranging from an armadillo to a rattlesnake are expected to predict the weather this February.

Here are some of the other animal forecasters:

  • Alabama's Smith Lake Jake (groundhog).

  • Alabama's Sand Mountain Sam (possum).

  • Arizona's Agua Fria Freddie (rattlesnake).

  • Georgia's Gen. Beauregard Lee (groundhog).

  • Louisiana's Cajun Groundhog (groundhog).

  • New York's Staten Island Chuck (groundhog).

  • North Carolina's Sir Walter Wally (groundhog).

  • Ohio's Buckeye Chuck (groundhog).

  • Texas' Bee Cave Bob (armadillo).

  • West Virginia's French Creek Freddie (groundhog).

  • Wisconsin's Jimmy (groundhog).

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has declared Phil the most reliable of all the psychic critters.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: When is Groundhog Day 2023? What to know about the winter tradition