You may know Groundhog Day from the 1993 film in which a TV weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. This classic movie, where Bill Murray’s character reports on the annual celebration over and over, subsequently put Punxsutawney, Pa., on the map.
According to Variety, the town of Punxsutawney typically saw about 15,000-30,000 tourists for the holiday, but that number rose to 35,000 the year after “Groundhog Day” was released. Since then, Punxsutawney and Woodstock, the nearby town where the movie was filmed, host Groundhog Day events for tourists.
When is Groundhog Day 2023?
Groundhog Day is on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. Though not a federal holiday, Americans tune in to see if the famed groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow every year on the same day, Feb. 2.
The festivities will begin at sunrise at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, but the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club celebrates with talent shows, banquets and performances leading up to and after the festivities.
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What is Groundhog Day?
The American tradition of Groundhog Day sees the nation’s most well-known groundhog take a stance on the season ahead. If he sees his shadow, he predicts six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it’s a forecast of an early spring.
Groundhog Day’s roots are in the Christian holiday Candlemas, the midway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. During Candlemas, Christians honored the changing of the seasons and lit candles to predict how long winter would last.
The first official Groundhog Day happened on February 2, 1887, in the very town it is celebrated in today. The celebrations made a permanent home at Gobbler’s Knob the following year. According to History.com, it was a newspaper editor and groundhog hunter who declared Phil, a groundhog from Punxsutawney, the true predictor.
Today, the ceremony is overseen by a group of men who form the “Inner Circle” of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The Inner Circle also cares for and feeds the groundhog carrying out the responsibilities of Punxsutawney Phil.
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What will happen if the groundhog sees its shadow?
If Phil sees his shadow, theoretically, we can expect six more weeks of cold. Last year the groundhog predicted a longer winter.
Unfortunately for Phil fanatics, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the groundhog has “no predictive skill.” In fact, he’s only gotten it right about 40% of the time.
You’d have more luck monitoring NOAA's seasonal temperature outlook, which predicts the northwestern states will see temperatures leaning below historic norms in February, March and April. The southern states will likely experience normal temperatures and the northeast may see the same.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Groundhog Day 2023: When is it and what happens if Phil sees shadow?