Groundhog predicts: 6 weeks to wait for spring in the United States

Under the shadow of the new crown epidemic, some areas of the United States held the 135th “Groundhog Day” celebration on February 2, and broadcast it on TV and online. Since 1887, generations of groundhogs in the United States have been tasked with forecasting the season. According to legend, after a woodchuck awakened from hibernation walked out of the cave on February 2, if the sun was shining and you could see your shadow, it would indicate that the North American winter will not end for 6 weeks, and it will continue to return. Go to the lair to sleep. And if it was cloudy and cloudy that day, and you could not see your own shadow, it means that spring is coming, and it will no longer go home, but wander around outside. Farmers can start to work in spring. In the age of underdeveloped science and technology, North American farmers mainly rely on marmots’ warnings for spring ploughing and autumn harvesting. For more than a century, this “prediction of the beginning of spring” has gradually developed into a kind of folk culture in the United States, which is still popular.

This year’s “Groundhog Day”, the small town of Pensoutony in Pennsylvania, the weather is cold, but the Pensoutony Zoo has gathered many journalists, locals and tourists, and the TV station carried out “Groundhog Day” across the country and the world. Live broadcast of the event. A reporter from the Global Times watched the live broadcast on YouTube. This important mission of predicting the season is completed by a groundhog officially named “Phil”. In a nest made of one-meter-high tree stumps, Phil is still hibernating. The host knocked on Phil’s door with his cane, and people around shouted “Phil, Phil, Phil”. Phil seemed to be awakened by people’s calls, but he didn’t mean to go out. Around 7:35, the host took the sleepy Phil out for a walk, and he saw his shadow in the sun. Then the host raised it above his head, and everyone cheered for the “prediction emperor”. Then, Phil was placed on the stump platform in the center of the ceremony, and a crimson royal blanket was spread on the platform. The host tried to talk to him, but Phil has been quiet. After a while, the host sent Phil home to hibernate. At the end of the event, the host announced: Phil predicts that winter is not over yet, and must wait another 6 weeks for spring to really come, that is, spring on March 16th. The US weather forecast says that spring will really begin in the US on March 20. Basically consistent with Phil’s prediction. The United States has a vast territory, and other states have their own groundhog forecasters, but the official state usually uses Phil, Pennsylvania. In 1993, the movie “Groundhog Day” starring comedian Bill Murray made Pennsylvania groundhogs famous all over the world.

Why choose the February 2 forecast? It is said that this day originated from the “Eastern Candle Festival” in Europe, which is the 40th day after Christmas. On this day, the early Europeans used candlelight to predict spring: if the candlelight of that day is transparent and bright in clear sunlight, spring is still on its way. If candlelight brings clouds and rain, spring will come soon. When European immigrants settled in the United States, this tradition was brought to the United States, and the glorious task of predicting spring was entrusted to the native American “groundhogs.” It is believed that animals hibernating in the soil have the ability to predict the arrival of spring.

However, relevant statistics show that the accuracy rate of woodchucks in predicting spring is less than 40%. Many years ago, a groundhog forecaster not only got out of a hole, but also stayed out at night. When the locals saw it, they thought that spring had arrived and hurriedly planted crops. However, the weather did not warm up that year and the seeds sowed were frozen to death, causing great losses to the local people. A farmer took the groundhog to the court in a rage, demanding that it be sentenced to death. People outside the venue raised banners to call for its rescue. It is said that the case went nowhere because the defendant “escaped from prison”.