Instead of a groundhog, the Germans watched a hedgehog, with the same principle, if the hedgehog saw its shadow there would be a 6-week "Second Winter".
Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were predominately German, who found groundhogs to be similar to their homeland's hedgehogs. Thus the groundhog became the predictor of the end of, or the continuation of, winter. The Pennsylvania Germans recited:
So far will the snow swirl
until the May.
The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper is credited with printing the news of the first official observance of Groundhog Day in 1866: "Today is groundhog day, and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen his shadow."
Today's observance at Gobbler's Knob is witnessed in person by tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Some of Punxsutawney Phil's Famous Moments:
- During Prohibition he threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter if he wasn't allowed a drink.
- In 1981 Phil wore a yellow ribbon to show his support for American hostages in Iran.
- In 1986 he traveled to Washington D.C. to meet President Reagan.
- The 1993 movie "Groundhog Day", starring Bill Murray, was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, not Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
- Phil appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1995.
- In 2001, his prediction was shown live on the JumboTron at Times Square.
- Also in 2001, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell attended the ceremonies, the first ever sitting governor to do so.