People have been celebrating Groundhog Day, or some form of it, for centuries. According to folklore, if the groundhog emerges from hibernation and does not see his shadow, he will leave his burrow. This signifies that the end of winter is near. On the other hand, if the groundhog does see his shadow, he will retreat back into his burrow and winter will continue for at least another six weeks.
Groundhog Day is deeply rooted in ancient weather lore. February 2 is one of the four “cross-quarter” days—the midpoints between solstices and equinoxes. February 2, which is also known as Imbolc or Candlemas, is exactly halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. One of the earliest references to predicting the weather on this day can be found in an old English song:
“If Candlemas be fair and bright
Come, Winter, have another flight
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain
Go Winter, and come not again.”
So how much longer is winter going to last? Only Punxsutawney Phil knows the answer to that question. He has been making predictions since 1887. If the groundhog does not see his shadow on Groundhog Day, we will have an early spring.