I just turned 35 the end of January and I just learned how Phil the Groundhog makes his prediction! This made me research on how a couple of the other popular groundhogs make their forecast predictions.
Punxsutawney Phil is from Pennsylvania and has been making predictions since 1887. Phil’s prediction is made based off of two scrolls that are prepared in advance of the actual ceremony by members of the Groundhog Club. Phil is helped to the top of the stump by his handlers. He then tells the President of the Club, who possesses the wooden cane that helps him understand Groudhogese, which scroll he selects. One scroll proclaiming six more weeks of winter and one proclaiming an early spring.
Wiarton Willie is from Ontario, Canada. The story of Willie making predictions is said to date back to 1956 when a reporter from Toronto heard about a Groundhog Day gathering in Wiarton. Turns out it was just a local, Mac McKenzie, who sent out invitations to friends for a Groundhog Day get together. The reporter found the group and partied with them but the next day said he needed an actual story to take back to justify the expenses of his travels. So Mac took his wife’s fur hat, dug a burrow in the snow, and pronounced a prediction. The picture ran in the February 3, 1956 edition of the Toronto Star and a festival was born. Now Willie the groundhog makes his predictions by “whispering” to the local mayor what he predicts the forecast will be.
Shubenacadie Sam is from Nova Scotia, Canada. Sam is the millennial of the groundhogs who started making predictions in 1987. His story is pretty simple from what I gather. He lives in a Wildlife Park in town and unlike the other groundhogs he does not “speak” to anyone. He simply makes his prediction when the door is opened on his hut. If he comes out into his pen area to play it will be early spring. If he goes back in to his hut it will be a longer winter.
The groundhogs prediction ratings:
Punxsutawney Phill is 39%
Wiarton Willie 25%
Shubenacadie Sam is 45%
Folklore and accuracy prediction aside, I am a fan of Shubenacadie Sam. His predictions are based off of the actual conditions outside. Today he went back into his little hut so it looks like I get to look forward to six more weeks of winter! Both Phil and Willie “told” their people it would be an early spring!
Which Groundhog is your favorite?