The Groundhog Says Winter is Coming, And So Did the Movie 30 Years Ago

This year marks 137 Groundhog Day predictions, and 30 years of Bill Murray living the same day over and over again.
By Madison E. Goldberg
(Photo by Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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.

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.

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.


The tradition is regarded by many as humorously absurd. Phil has long offered a beacon of hope in the bleakest of winter months.

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.

The peculiar tradition of course sparked humorous responses across the internet. Some cracked jokes related to Tom Brady’s retirement yesterday.

Others jokingly theorized about what the Groundhog could predict next, including what Taylor Swift’s next re-recorded album may be.

Some joked that Phil may have predicted more winter because he’s just not a morning person.

Politicians and activists took the occasion as an opportunity to discuss current events on Capitol Hill.

Popular streaming platforms and brands took to Twitter to meme-ify the situation.

Meteorologists were quick to point out that while the tradition is nationally beloved, it may not be the most accurate.

Contrary to the most popular groundhog, in Massachusetts Ms. G predicted spring at her home farm in Lincoln.

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.

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.