Punxsutawney Phil, Wiarton Willy and More!

groundhog day

Groundhog Day is a Canadian and American tradition celebrated on February 2nd each year.  On this day the groundhog, or woodchuck, comes out of his hole after winter hibernation to look for his shadow.  If he sees his shadow this means six more weeks of bad weather, if he does not see his shadow that means spring is coming soon.  

This tradition comes from a old European belief that if it is sunny on Candlemas Day, then the winter would remain another six weeks. Candlemas Day was celebrated on February 2nd and commemorated the purification of the Virgin Mary. Candles for sacred uses were blessed on this day.


According to an old English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

According to an old Scotch couplet:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be twa (two) winters in the year.

Another variation of the Scottish rhyme:

If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o' winter to come and mair,
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,

The half of winter's gone at Yule.

Pennsylvania's Earliest German settlers recited:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.

American 19th century farmers, recited:

Groundhog Day - Half your hay.


It is uncertain if this belief dates to pre-Christianity, nevertheless it was a common belief in a number of European countries during the seventeen century. The Germans started the belief that if a hedgehog was frightened by his shadow on Candlemas Day he would foretell that winter would last another six weeks. This belief was brought to America during the eighteenth century by German settlers. These settlers adopted the groundhog as their weather predicator.

Punxsutawney Phil

This lore grew popular in the United States during the late eighteen hundreds due to the efforts of Clymer H. Freas, a newspaper editor, and W. Smith, an American congressman and newspaper publisher. They organized and popularized a yearly festival in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. In which a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil was used to foretell how much longer winter would last. This very popular event is still being held and is called Groundhog Day. 

Over the course of Phil's appearances, Phil has had numerous noteworthy highlights:

Phil's Past Predictions ~ Since 1887 through today!

Saw Show = Long Winter       No Shadow = Early Spring

1887 First Official trek to Gobbler's Knob.
Saw Shadow.
1888 Saw Shadow.
1889 No Record.
1890 No Shadow.
1891 No Record.
1892 No Record.
1893 No Record.
1894 No Record.
1895 No Record.
1896 No Record.
1897 No Record.
1898 Saw Shadow.
1899 No Record.
1900 Saw Shadow.
1901 Saw Shadow.
1902 Probably No Shadow.
1903 Saw Shadow.
1904 Saw Shadow.
1905 Saw Shadow.
1906 Saw Shadow.
1907 Saw Shadow.
1908 Saw Shadow;
First front page coverage.
1909 Saw Shadow.
1910 Saw Shadow.
1911 Saw Shadow;
"55 couples at Groundhog Day Dance."
1912 Saw Shadow.
1913 Saw Shadow at 8:08 AM;
first newspaper photo of Groundhog by John Frampton.
A new dance "The Groundhog Roll" was demonstrated by Joe Winslow.
1914 Saw Shadow at 9:34 AM,
Groundhog Demonstrated "The Groundhog Flop"
1915 Saw Shadow at 11:45 AM;
His name - Wiley William Woodchuck!
1916 Saw Shadow at 9:07;
First films of the event.
1917 Saw Shadow at 9:07.
1918 Saw Shadow;
Temperature 18 below zero.
1919 Saw Shadow.
1920 Saw Shadow.
1921 Saw Shadow at 7:17 AM.
1922 Saw Shadow 7:11 AM;
Groundhog Holiday Dance.
1923 Saw Shadow.
1924 Saw Shadow 7:13 AM;
First appearance of logo with groundhog with umbrella and newspaper
1925 Saw Shadow 8:13 AM;
C.J. Margiotti gave groundhog tradition to the Pittsburgh Travel Club.
1926 Saw Shadow at 9:17 AM.
1927 Saw Shadow at 8:35 AM.
1928 Saw Shadow at 10 AM;
Program with Punx'y Rotary Club was on KDKA Radio.
1929 Predicted six more weeks of winter before sunrise.
1930 Saw Shadow at 7:11.
1931 Saw Shadow at 12:27 PM.
1932 Saw Shadow at 9:11 AM.
1933 Saw Shadow.
1934 No Shadow.
1935 Saw Shadow at 9:11 AM.
1936 Saw Shadow at 10:27 AM.
1937 Saw Shadow at 9:09 AM;
Unfortunate meeting with a skunk.
1938 Saw Shadow at 9 AM;
Blackest shadow in history.
1939 Saw Shadow at 9:10 AM.
1940 Saw Shadow at 9 AM;
Pictured with first Groundhog Day Queen, Miss Margaret Hunam.
1941 Saw Shadow at 4:25 PM;
Six Groundhog Girls.
1942 Partial Shadow at 7:40 AM;
"War clouds have blacked out parts of the shadow."
(The Spirit, Feb. 2, 1942).
1943 Groundhog didn't make an appearance;
need to rely on Quarryville's prediction.
1944 Saw Shadow at 9:10 AM.
1945 Saw Shadow at 9 AM.
1946 Saw Shadow at 7:52 AM.
1947 Saw Shadow at 7:37 AM;
First newspaper photo of Groundhog Club members at Gobbler's Knob.
1948 Saw Shadow at 8:46 AM;
Dr. Frank Lorenzo was interviewed on KDKA Radio's "Brunch With Bill" program.
1949 Saw Shadow at 7:32 AM.
1950 No Shadow;
Colleen Townsend, actress, was in town to promote the film, When Willie Comes Marching Home.
1951 Saw Shadow at 8:41 AM
1952 Saw Shadow at 7:52 AM;
First appearance of Frau Groundhog, Groundhog procession and shadow. Casting was on Dave Garroway's TV Show on NBC on Monday, February 4.
1953 Saw Shadow at 7:38 AM;
First year with Sam Light as Groundhog Club president;
First Man-of-the-Year Award goes to Ben Levy.
1954 Saw Shadow at 8:03 AM;
The groundhog was turned completely white from worry.
1955 Saw Shadow at 8:51 AM;
4-inch snowfall on Groundhog Day; Coverage on three TV stations.
1956 Saw Shadow 8:33 AM.
1957 Saw Shadow 7:47 AM.
1958 Saw Shadow at 8:27 AM;
Prepared for blast-off in his "Chucknik" spacecraft;
First Woman-of-the-Year Award was given to Mrs. Louis (Olive) Woodring.
1959 Saw Shadow at 8:23 AM;
Announces that he has returned from a successful trip to the moon.
1960 Saw Shadow at 7:33 AM;
forecasts extremely bad weather;
appearance on the Today show.
1961 Saw Shadow at 7:41 AM;
25 below zero.
1962 Saw Shadow at 7:29 AM;
Just returned from second trip to the moon.
1963 Saw Shadow at 7:41 AM;
Unusually dark shadow.
1964 Saw Shadow.
1965 Saw Shadow shortly before 8 AM.
1966 Saw Shadow at 7:21 AM.
1967 Saw Shadow 7:25 AM.
1968 Saw Shadow 7:29 AM.
1969 Saw Shadow 7:29 AM.
1970 No Shadow.
1971 Saw Shadow at 7:29 AM;
14 below zero.
1972 Saw Shadow 7:30 AM.
1973 Saw Shadow 7:29 AM.
1974 Saw Shadow 8:28 AM.
1975 No Shadow; Declared at 7:31 AM.
1976 Saw Shadow at 7:29 AM.
1977 Saw Shadow at 7:27;
In midst of energy crisis.
1978 Saw Shadow at 7:28 AM.
1979 Saw Shadow at 7:28 AM.
1980 Saw Shadow at 7:29 AM.
1981 Saw Shadow at 7:27 AM.
1982 Saw Shadow 7:26 AM;
After coldest January in more than a century.
1983 No Shadow;
Peered over shadow at 7:29 AM, but saw no shadow;
predicted an early spring after a mild winter.
1984 Saw Shadow shortly after 7 AM.
1985 Saw Shadow at 7:28 AM.
1986 No Shadow!
Visited President Reagan at the White House in March.
1987 Saw Shadow 7:29 AM. Celebrated 100th Anniversary!
1988 No Shadow.
1989 Saw Shadow.
1990 No Shadow.
1991 Saw Shadow.
1992 Saw Shadow.
Bill Murray visited town to research the festivities for new film.
1993 Saw Shadow.
Groundhog Day, the movie with Bill Murray, was released in time for Phil's prediction.
1994 Saw Shadow 7:28 AM.
1995 No Shadow.
Guested on the Oprah Winfrey TV Show and made new fans.
1996 Saw Shadow 7:21 AM.
So cold he dug deep to make his prediction. Phil gets his first web site.
1997 No Shadow.
1998 Saw Shadow 7:20 AM
Phil's prediction broadcast live to the world on the Internet.
1999 No Shadow.
2000 Saw Shadow at 7:28 AM. Dawn of a "new Phillennium!"
2001 Saw Shadow at 7:25 AM. Phil's forecast was shown live on the JumboTron in Times Square, New York City!
2002 Saw Shadow. The date: 02/02/02!

Phil Says Six More Weeks of Winter!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

On Gobbler's Knob, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania at 7:27 a.m. this Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2003, Punxsutawney Phil, King of Groundhogs, Seer of Seers, imitated but never equaled, responded to the summons of Groundhog President Bill Cooper. Bill Deeley, his friend and Handler greeted him affectionately and placed him atop his domicile, the old oak stump. From this lofty seat he addressed the large enthusiastic throng of faithful followers, wishing them a "Happy Groundhog Day." Phil may be as cute as a Beanie Baby but when he predicts in his Groundhogese there is no maybe. He directed president Bill to the appropriate scroll which reads:

Governor Rendell joins this joyful throng
of several thousand strong
and he like everyone will thrill
at seeing the magic on this hill
as I make my prognostication
and give my justification:
I see my shadow beside me
and that is that magic you see.
It causes this midwinter revelry,
six more weeks of winter there will be.

Source: Phil's official site:  punxsutawneyphil.com


Phil Says Expect 6 More Weeks of Winter!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

On this Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2004, Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, King of the Groundhogs, Prognosticator of Prognosticators has responded to the tapping welcome of Groundhog Club President Bill Cooper at 7:27 a.m. here on Gobbler's Knob, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

He was greeted by his longtime friend and handler Bill Deeley who said, "I bring greetings from Presidents Bush and Cooper." He then held him high so he could view and greet the large exuberant crowd of Faithful Followers.

It was time for Phil to do his job, so Bill placed him atop his old oak stump. After a brief look around he said to President Bill Cooper in Groundhogese: "'~{}||*~^'(^~#:'~-_<>~!" Which President Bill translated to say, "Pick the scroll on the left." Obediently Bill selected it and it states:

"I'm glad I live in this luxurious burrow on the Knob
and not in a dirty, smelly spider hole like a slob.
When I come out I don't want to negotiate;
But to just do my job and prognosticate.

Today because my shadow I see,
six more weeks of winter there will be."

Source: Phil's official site:  punxsutawneyphil.com

2005 - 2006 Saw Shadow - Long Winter
2007 No Shadow - Early Spring
2009 - 2010 Saw Shadow - Long Winter
2011 ????


Wiarton Willy

In Canada the name of the groundhog that is used to predict the length of winter is Wiarton Willy.   Wiarton Willy is a very rare albino groundhog with white hair and pink eyes and can not see very well.  

The Legend of Wiarton Willy.......In the deep dark ages of antiquity (1956 or there about) the ancient rituals of Candlemas were replaced by the celebrations of Williemas. A secret emissary of three wise groundhogs had broken hibernation to bring the glad tidings to the small community of Oliphant. There in a shack on the shores of Lake Huron they found Mac McKenzie anticipating a message of great import.

The three wise groundhogs named Grundoon, Muldoon, and Sand Dune told Mac of the birth of a white groundhog who would for ever alter the world of weather prognostication. He would be recognized by his white coat and pink eyes and his unfailing ability to correctly predict the remaining course of each winter. He would emerge each February 2nd and pronounce his predictions only to those who spoke the ancient tongue of Groundhogese.

With a joyful heart and the help of revelling friends Mac went forth and spread the great news. Thus from the simple message delivered on Williemas eve to the grateful residents of Oliphant has grown the true meaning of winter...."Party On"  ~ Copyright 1999 Wiarton Willie Organization

White, bright, out-of-site, never wrong, always right!  Wiarton Willy

Wiarton Willy
Peter E. Loschnig

'Twas the night before Ground Hog Day, when all through the burrow
Not a ground hog was stirring, he wouldn’t uncurl;
But the people all gathered next day with great care,
In hopes that Spring time soon would be there;

But the ground hog was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of meadows danced in his head;
With mayor in tuxcedo, and I in my cap,
We woke up the ground hog from his long winter's nap,

When down is his hole there arose such a clatter,
I sprang back in a lurch to see what was the matter.
The crowd was surprised to witness the crash,
While I readied the camera and steadied the flash.

The sun on the crest of the new-fallen snow
Made us hope he would stay in his hole far below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a gound hog named Willie, Oh My, Oh My Dear!

With his nose that, so lively did move and did twitch,
I knew back down he must go and be quick.
Then more rapid than eagles the clouds they came,
We whistled, and shouted, and called him by name;

"Now, Wee One! now, Willie! now, don’t be a VIXEN!
Oh, COME on! We’re waiting called a Wiarton CITIZEN!”
So to the top of the hole he appeared to us all!
And glad were we, not a shadow did fall!

His face -- how it twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His eyes were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the fur of his body was as white as the snow;

The stump of a carrot he held tight in his teeth,
And white fur encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he squealed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old hog,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of the fog;
A wink of his eye and no shadow ahead,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He sprang to his hole, as I gave a great whistle,
And away left the crowd like the down of a thistle.
But I heard all exclaim, ere they walked out of sight,



Other Predictors Include:

groundhog bar

General Beauregard Lee -- In this corner, with a 94 percent accuracy rating, sits a Georgia native with not one but two honorary doctorates. The University of Georgia awarded him a DWP, Doctorate of Weather Prognostication, while Georgia State University made him a Doctor of Southern Groundology. With 14 years of predicting experience under his belt, he provides stiff competition to the more famous Phil.

Buckeye Chuck -- Ohio’s entry into the great groundhog race began his predicting career back in the 1970s -- and he was even declared the official state groundhog in 1979. Join Buckeye on February 2 and enjoy a SPAM sandwich at the neighborhood café -- it is ground hog afterall!

Staten Island Chuck -- Formally known as Charles G. Hogg, Chuck resides in the Staten Island Zoo and is the official groundhog meteorologist of NYC. In a ceremony officiated by the mayor of the city, Chuck makes his predictions each year, often opposing Phil’s famous prognostications.

Shubenacadie Sam -- Sam has a secret weapon. Because he lives in Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park in eastern Nova Scotia, he gets to experience dawn before any of the other groundhogs on the list -- making his prediction the first prediction of the year.

Octoraro Orphie -- Octoraro is a worthy opponent who likes to fly under the radar. He lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and prefers to make his predictions without all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds hogs like Phil. He’s old school -- waking in his own good time each year, rather than being pulled from his burrow. And since he’s been making correct predictions since 1908, he’s definitely the dark hog in the running.




The groundhog, known also as woodchuck, is a burrowing and hibernating mammal. The groundhog is a marmot (Marmota monax). Native to North America and commonly found in Canada and eastern United States.

Description: The groundhog is a shy, reclusive animal that lives in empty fields. The groundhog has a thick and coarse reddish brown fur coat. Its has an elongated head with sharp rodent-like teeth. It has a squat body, short legs and a solid muscular frame. An adult has a length of 15 inches with a tail 6 inches long. Each paws has very sharp claws. The claws are used to dig and are used in combat when males fight to protect their territory and to determine which of them will mate with the females. During the latter part of summer and autumn it will increase its body weight by nearly 50 percent in fat to prepare for its long hibernation. The groundhog also gathers and places stores of food in their burrow for the winter months. The groundhog is mainly a herbivore, eating seeds, roots and other plant material. The groundhog has excellent eyesight. It has a very nervous disposition, ready to flee to its burrow at any sign of danger.

An adult groundhog

Habitats: The groundhog prefers flat empty fields. They dig long and deep burrows. They lay dried leaves and hay in their sleeping chamber. The entrance of their burrow has a non-obstructive view of the sky and their immediate surrounding. They rarely venture very far from their burrow.

Breeding: In the spring the males fight to determine which of them will mate. The young are born in the burrow and will remain inside for a month. Weaning occurs about one month afterward. The young are almost fully grown by the end of summer.

Enemies: The groundhog's main enemies are eagles, snakes, bears, wolves, felines and man.

Groundhog Movies, Music and More!

The National Wildlife Federation has compiled 10 things to know about groundhogs.


National Geographic examines the facts behind Punxsutawney Phil's forecast (including the strange phenomenon that has kept Phil alive 12 times longer than the typical groundhog).


If you've ever wondered how long Bill Murray was stuck in Groundhog Day, the blog Wolf Gnards does some calculations.

Houston Press has compiled a playlist of five groundhog songs.   You'll want to download them to your iPod right away.


Staten Island Chuck - http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/02/groundog_day_2011_staten_islan.html

General Beauregard Lee   http://www.yellowrivergameranch.com/bio.htm

Shubenacadie Sam   http://www.canadaviews.ca/2011/02/01/shubenacadie-sam-to-make-annual-weather-prediction-2/


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