Today marks the 137th annual Groundhog Day celebration, in which Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog makes his prediction about how long winter will last this year. This time around, Phil saw his shadow. He emerged from his burrow in Gobbler’s Knob park in Punxsutawney early this morning. People traveled from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the rodent oracle’s annual prediction.
GROUNDHOG DAY 2023: The famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, emerged during the 137th Groundhog Day celebration in Pennsylvania, only to see his shadow and predict six more weeks of winter. https://t.co/6SzDbQJtCf pic.twitter.com/LAUR4ze8sV
— ABC News (@ABC) February 2, 2023
This year is an extra special one for Punxsutawney, the small town where the tradition originated. It is the 30th anniversary of the release of the film Groundhog Day, which starred Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. The film famously brought national attention to the tradition.
It's been 30 years since Bill Murray's Phil Connors found serenity, growth, and joy while trapped in a nightmare: https://t.co/hxAhvjT0Dc pic.twitter.com/rcvv0OXqTM
— CONSEQUENCE (@consequence) February 2, 2023
The movie follows disgruntled TV reporter Phil (Bill Murray) as he continues to wake up on Groundhog Day in the rural Pennsylvania town until he learns to appreciate the simpler things about life. Phil winds up falling for his producer Rita (Andie McDowell). The movie’s plot has people sharing their own Groundhog Day love stories on Twitter.
I'd live Groundhog Day over and over and over, because it was on this date, when we were 18 years old, that I met my muse, my inamorata, and my lovely bride. Happiest of meeting anniversaries to the brilliant and beautiful @victoria_blewer ! pic.twitter.com/PivTRf6GKu
— Chris Bohjalian (@ChrisBohjalian) February 2, 2023
The tradition is regarded by many as humorously absurd. Phil has long offered a beacon of hope in the bleakest of winter months.
I really love Groundhog Day. There’s no real reason to, February is bleak and short-lived and it reminds us of our own mortality, but I just love that as a species we decided to venerate this fat, grumpy rodent as a modern-day oracle of Delphi basically because we think it’s fun pic.twitter.com/oZRJsplBI4
— Jeeyon Shim 심지연 (@jeeyonshim) February 2, 2023
The tradition actually originated among the Pennsylvania Dutch, who carried on the tradition from ancestors thousands of years before them. It is estimated that the original Groundhog Day likely took place around 1887, and a badger was initially used before a groundhog. The tradition goes that if the fluffy rodent emerges from their burrow and sees a shadow from clear weather, six more weeks of winter are in store. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then there will be an early spring.
Every year we trust that groundhog and every year we act surprised #groundhogday pic.twitter.com/IgUS8bQTxJ
— David Crowder (@crowdermusic) February 2, 2023
The peculiar tradition of course sparked humorous responses across the internet. Some cracked jokes related to Tom Brady’s retirement yesterday.
Tom Brady’s excellent social team is slipping — if he waited one more day he’d have retired (again) on Groundhog Day. Wasted opportunity.
— Sarah Spain (@SarahSpain) February 2, 2023
Others jokingly theorized about what the Groundhog could predict next, including what Taylor Swift’s next re-recorded album may be.
groundhog day (taylor's version) pic.twitter.com/ktu5YTIpm8
— eME!rald 🕰️ 🌙 fan account 💚 (@hushmirrorball) February 2, 2023
Some joked that Phil may have predicted more winter because he’s just not a morning person.
In Punxsutawney Phil’s defense, if someone dragged me out of my warm bed at an ungodly hour, I’d give them a snarky weather prediction too. 🤷🏼♀️ #GroundhogDay pic.twitter.com/sRqbWkilMc
— Linda Childers (@lindarchilders) February 2, 2023
Politicians and activists took the occasion as an opportunity to discuss current events on Capitol Hill.
Happy Groundhog Day. A rodent with a brain the size of an acorn knows more about climate change than the entire GOP.
— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) February 2, 2023
No, we’re not stuck in a #GroundhogDay-style time loop—the GOP is just releasing the same awful proposals over and over again: cutting Social Security and Medicare, handing even more tax breaks to the wealthy and well-connected, and restricting abortion rights even further.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 2, 2023
Another day, another series of distractions by the party of political stunts over public service.
It's definitely Groundhog Day in @SpeakerMcCarthy's @HouseGOP. pic.twitter.com/LJ4gWtuIPb
— Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) February 2, 2023
Popular streaming platforms and brands took to Twitter to meme-ify the situation.
the only Phil we trust to tell the future: #GroundhogDay pic.twitter.com/lyaMonwxV2
— Disney D23 (@DisneyD23) February 2, 2023
i want someone to hold me like this #GroundhogDay pic.twitter.com/m9Lx1SJM8U
— Duolingo (@duolingo) February 2, 2023
Meteorologists were quick to point out that while the tradition is nationally beloved, it may not be the most accurate.
Happy #GroundhogDay! pic.twitter.com/yxToN0vCUP
— Tyler Roney (@TylerJRoney) February 2, 2023
Happy Groundhog Day pic.twitter.com/C2HjMz76yw
— Maggie Howell (@Mar__G_3) February 2, 2023
Contrary to the most popular groundhog, in Massachusetts Ms. G predicted spring at her home farm in Lincoln.
The official groundhog of Massachusetts, Ms. G, says spring is on the way! https://t.co/olx3BU1IUz pic.twitter.com/jOplRQCF1f
— WBZ | CBS Boston News (@wbz) February 2, 2023
Onlookers reflect on the hijinks of Groundhog Days past, including when New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio dropped the groundhog after it squirmed in his hands.
I can never see footage like this without thinking back to the time Mayor DiBlasio dropped the groundhog on Staten Island during one of these ceremonies, and it died. So symbolic of his Administration
— Slow and steady wins the race 🐢 🐢 (@HarlemJ11) February 2, 2023
While Phil’s accuracy rate has only been 40% over the course of the last decade, people continue to celebrate the holiday with glee. It is likely not for the actual prediction, but for the opportunity to gather in the middle of the winter, when the roads are slushy and the short days catch up to people after the holiday season is over. Regardless of Phil and Ms. G’s predictions, this holiday is certainly here to stay.