Groundhog Day

By: Amber Wilson

Six more weeks of winter have been announced this Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil and Sylvia the Apex Armadillo both saw their shadows yesterday, and have agreed that the cold weather will stick around a little longer. 

Groundhog Day originated from various celebrations of the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It was believed that a sunny midway point meant another 40 days of cold and snow. The Germans were the first to involve animals in the matter, pronouncing the day sunny only if badgers glimpsed their own shadows. German immigrants brought this custom with them when they settled Pennsylvania in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, choosing the native groundhog as the forecaster. The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The groundhog in the spotlight is Punxsutawney Phil, who gets his longevity from drinking the secret “elixir of life”. Punxsutawney Phil is correct 36 percent of the time, no more than the average coin toss.

The Peak has its own mammal representative, Sylvia the Armadillo. Mayor Gilbert held festivities in Downtown Apex, and Sylvia saw her shadow.

 Raleigh’s own groundhog is named Sir Walter Wally, named after British explorer Sir Walter Raleigh who first colonized North Carolina.  According to the director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Wally is correct 64 percent of the time, nearly double the accuracy rate of Punxsutawney Phil. Sir Walter Wally did not make an appearance at Raleigh’s Groundhog Day Ceremony, but museum staff reported that he saw his shadow.

What do you think? Is winter here to stay, or is spring right around the corner?


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