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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Enjoying the Destination
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Groundhog Day: 10 groundbreaking facts

Once a year, people wait anxiously to see if one furry little friend, a groundhog, will see his shadow. If he does, legend claims there will be six more weeks of winter. In honor of Monday’s Groundhog Day, here are 10 fun facts about the day.
1. Groundhog Day, although celebrating its 129th official year in its founding town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is believed to be around 300 years old.
2. The tradition originated from a German holiday called Candlemas Day, the day exactly between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. If the sun came out that day, it was believed winter would continue for six more weeks.
3. The town of Punxsutawney draws thousands to see if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow. Last year’s attendance was around 18,000, despite Groundhog Day falling on Super Bowl Sunday.
4. Attendance has increased since the famous movie made in 1993 starring Bill Murray. The record year is 1997, with around 35,000 visitors.
5. Last year, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped the groundhog used for the New York Groundhog Day ceremony. The groundhog, named Charlotte, died a week later of internal injuries.
6. In the 128 years the tradition has been celebrated, Phil has seen his shadow 102 times. Only 17 years show Phil did not see his shadow. Nine years have no record.
7. According to legend, the current Phil is 123 years old. He is said to have been born in 1887, although most groundhogs only live for 10 years. The supposed reason for his longevity is because he is fed an elixir called “groundhog punch” every summer that guarantees another seven years of life.
8. Phil has a posse called the “inner circle,” to whom he tells his annual prediction. Phil’s inner circle is seen at all ceremonies wearing top hats and is in charge of caring for Phil throughout the year.
9. The earliest reference to Groundhog Day in text can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College. The excerpt from the diary of James Morris reads: February 4, 1841 — “Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”
10. The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated Feb. 2, 1886. The groundhog, as reported by The Punxsutawney Spirit, did not see his shadow that year.

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