Groundhog Day has origins in Germany, where hedgehogs were first used as the season-predicting mammals, according to Groundhog.org. Since hedgehogs aren’t native to the United States, another hibernating animal was chosen in their stead: the groundhog.
The year 1886 marked the first time Groundhog Day appeared in the local newspaper in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The tradition continued to grow and is now celebrated all over the world.
Since the entire holiday hinges on a pudgy rodent’s weather predictions, it’s natural to question how often Punxsutawney Phil is actually correct. In one study done by the Washington Post, over a 30-year span, the groundhog (and his descendants) were technically correct more years than not, but it really depended on which part of the country was being examined. Overall, the Post says, “Much like how you won your last coin toss, Phil is ‘right’ in these regions because of chance.”
While the exact calculations are disputed, IFC’s Simon Gallagher estimates Bill Murray’s character in the classic film “Groundhog Day” relived the day 12,403 days — that’s 33 years and 358 days!
During the Prohibition era, Punxsutawney Phil “threatened” to impose 60 more weeks of winter if he wasn’t allowed a stiff drink. But luckily, even he wasn’t a fan of an endless winter.