Groundhog Day has been celebrated in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, since 1887. But the history of Groundhog Day can be traced to early Christians in Europe and the custom of Candlemas Day, which marked the midpoint between the winter solstice (the official start of winter) and the spring equinox (the official start of the spring season).
On Candlemas Day, the belief was that clear and sunny conditions signified a long, harsh winter and cloudy conditions meant warm weather was on its way.
The Germans eventually adopted this custom, incorporating a hedgehog and the belief that if the animal cast a shadow during sunny skies on Candlemas Day, it indicated six more weeks of bitter cold.
When German settlers arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1700s, they brought the tradition with them. However, because hedgehogs were scarce in the region, they were replaced with the more abundant groundhog, which was also considered sacred among the local Native Americans.
All eyes will be on Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most famous groundhog, as he awakens from his wintry sleep in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and looks for his shadow Saturday morning, Feb. 2, to predict if we will face a long winter or an early spring.
The same scene will be played out at the Staten Island Zoo in New York, where a furry groundhog named Staten Island Chuck will look for his shadow today. So will Milltown Mel in the tiny New Jersey borough of Milltown, Essex Ed at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, N.J., and Stonewall Jackson V at the Space Farms Zoo & Museum in Wantage.
Updates to appear below will report what the Ground Hogs saw . . . check back.
UPDATE 7:30 AM EST --
Did NOT see his shadow. Spring is on the way!