Groundhog Day 2022

Groundhog Day 2022

This year, Groundhog Day occurred on February 2. The groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow and predicted 6 more weeks of winter. Groundhog Day occurs every year on February 2, the day the groundhog will come out of its hibernation spot, and the groundhog will come out at around 7:25 a.m. to deliver the prediction. This tradition started in 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Since then, this tradition has been used as a prediction of the weather. If the groundhog sees its shadow, it’s 6 more weeks of winter. If it doesn’t, spring will be early. 

Over time, people in different states have adopted a groundhog of their own to add to the predictions. Milltown, New Jersey’s groundhog, Milltown Mel, had been providing predictions for years until he passed away just days before February 2. Milltown scrambled to find a replacement, but they couldn’t get any. But some of the other groundhogs are Wiarton Willie, Jimmy the Groundhog, Dunkirk Dave, and Staten Island Chuck. Each deliver their own predictions. However, these other groundhogs are considered fraudulent, with Punxsutawney Phil being the only true predictor. 

As for accuracy, the star of the show, Punxsutawney Phil, is only around 35%-41% accurate. However, some people claim it’s a 100% accuracy rate. Some people also believe that Phil is 134 years old. Ground hogs can live for about 3-6 years in the wild and up to 10 or more years when in captivity. Over the years, Phil has predicted six additional weeks of winter 105 times and 20 early springs. Some years there were no predictions due to no appearances and on one occasion, war clouds caused the shadow to be blacked out.  

The Groundhog Day tradition has been under fire a couple times. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has claimed that Phil is under stress and have suggested to replace Phil with a robotic groundhog. The president and founder of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, wrote a letter to Phil’s handlers. The letter mentions that replacing Phil with AI would allow for the groundhog to live its life in peace, being free to dig, burrow, forage, and hibernate without pressure. Newkirk also said that doing this would be much more progressive for the town of Punxsutawney. Newkirk goes on to say that Phil being in close to a large public crowd creates great stress for him. Introducing an AI groundhog would keep the tradition of Groundhog Day but also provide more accurate weather results.  

In the end, Groundhog Day is still done with a live groundhog and since PETA’s letter in 2020, there have been no signs of any of the groundhogs being replaced by AI. While the tradition may be fun to partake in, it’s probably not the most reliable for weather predictions and we don’t actually know if these groundhogs are under stress; their handlers could be lying about their condition or be unsure. We hope that this tradition is continued out ethically, whether it be with a live groundhog or not!