2 Feb: The First Groundhog Day

Long before Bill Murray turned up, Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney hosted its first ever Groundhog Day on 2nd February, 1887 – as a day for huntsmen to eat the local rodent.

Over time, the delightful, yet absurd, theory emerged that a groundhog sighting its shadow could predict six more weeks of winter, or herald an early spring. The concept traces its origins to ancient superstitions around Candlemas Day, brought to Pennsylvania by German settlers. But sadly the stats don’t back up the belief!

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how a cheeky newspaper editor first introduced this fun fake news into print; consider the role that booze has always played in this quaint merriment; and reveal just what Punxsutawney Phil gets up to for the rest of the year… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The truth about Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil is 131-year-old fake news’ (The Washington Post, 2018): https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/02/02/the-truth-about-groundhog-day-punxsutawney-phil-is-131-year-old-fake-news/

• ‘Groundhog Day 2020: Origin and History of How the Rodent Began Predicting the Weather’ (Newsweek, 2020):

https://www.newsweek.com/groundhog-day-2020-origin-history-1485155

• ‘Punxsutawney Phil makes 2023 Groundhog Day prediction’ (NBC News, 2023):