Groundhog Day is tomorrow, February 2nd. Most of us don’t know much about Groundhog Day except for two things: Punxsutawney Phil and the great Bill Murray movie named Groundhog Day.
Shea Gunther at Yahoo.com assembled this quick list of six interesting facts that you probably don’t know about Groundhog Day.
1. Germans started asking the groundhog about spring as an excuse to drink, eat and be merry
The first celebrants of Groundhog Day were the Pennsylvania Dutch (originally from Germany). They used the holiday as an excuse to get together and party.
Any excuse for a party, I guess…
2. Punxsutawney Phil has a pretty terrible success rate
When you compare Phil’s predictions against information from the National Climatic Data Center, Phil’s success rate is a pitiful 39%. Of course, if you ask the members of the Pnxsutawney Groundhog club, they’ll tell you he’s right 100% of the time.
3. Groundhogs are great swimmers and tree climbers
I can see those little guys being good at climbing trees, but I never thought about them being good swimmers. Their preferred habitat is at the edge of woods where they always have the option of scaling a tree to escape danger if they can’t get to their burrows.
4. Groundhogs are really deep sleepers
Groundhogs hibernate through the winter, slowing their breathing and heartbeats and letting their body temperatures fall not too far above freezing. They survive the hibernation living off the fat they stored during the summer and fall months. In warmer climates groundhogs may only hibernate for as little as three months but in colder regions it can last as long as six months!
5. Punxsutawney Phil has an awesome full title
Ready for this? Phil’s full name/title is Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary. He was given that name by the editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper in 1886.
6. Groundhogs can be real jerks
As with most wild animals, their natural inclination is to be quite aggressive. They can be socialized if raised with lots of human contact. But in the end, you’re still dealing with a wild animal.
Doug Schwartz, a zookeeper and groundhog trainer at the Staten Island Zoo, described groundhogs to the New York Times like this, “They’re known for their aggression, so you’re starting from a hard place. Their natural impulse is to kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out. You have to work to produce the sweet and cuddly.”