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Punxsutawney Phil, the weather-predicting groundhog.
On Wednesday, a roly-poly rodent named Punxsutawney Phil will be hoisted from his burrow in front of TV cameras and cheering crowds and be called upon to predict the weather. If this famous groundhog casts a shadow, legend has it that winter is here to stay for six more weeks.
Weird tradition, huh?
In fact, relying on rodents as forecasters may date back to the early days of Christianity
in Europe, when clear skies on Candlemas Day (Feb. 2) were said to herald cold weather ahead. In Germany, the tradition morphed into a myth
that if the sun came out on Candlemas, a hedgehog would cast its shadow, predicting snow all the way into May. When German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, they transferred the tradition onto local fauna, replacing hedgehogs with groundhogs.
Groundhog Day is now kept alive by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, whose members care for Punxsutawney Phil
year-round. (Phil lives in an enclosure in the Punxsutawney Memorial Library along with several other groundhogs.) Every year, the Groundhog Club rises early with their charge and takes him to a local hillside, Gobbler's Knob, for the weather-prediction ceremony.