When February arrives, most of us have had our fill of Winter. We are over the snow and the cold and are eager for any sign of Spring. And the most famous indicator of the arrival of this welcome season is, of course, the groundhog!
Every February 2nd since 1886, crowds have flocked to a tiny town in Central Pennsylvania just to hear from the most celebrated groundhog of all.
In the Gobbler's Knob section of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a reported 40,000 people eagerly await the most important meteorological forecast of the year: Is winter finally over?
At daybreak in this little village, Punxsutawney Phil leaves the warmth and comfort of his winter hibernation for one critical purpose: to give the human race the long-awaited news.
Tradition tells us that the groundhog, and this groundhog, in particular, is the sole prognosticator of how close we are to relief from the Winter doldrums. If the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of Winter; if he does not, then Spring is right around the corner.
And what did Phil have to say today? In the official proclamation, read by Phil's spokesman, the town's mayor, declares:
"Up early this morning, far from home, are you searching for The Philosopher's Stone?
"Well, even my best friends, they don't know. Is it an early Spring or just more snow?
My faithful followers, your hands, and my paws are getting cold, so here's my forecast, not lead but gold.
"I see my shadow; six more weeks of winter to go!"
Sorry about that! Looks as though Phil was frightened by the sight of his shadow and will scurry back into his burrow for another six weeks. When he comes out for good in mid-March, we will be able to celebrate the return of mild weather.
We can make it, though, right? We always seem to, and this year will be no exception. Happy February!!
To see the full ceremony - including top hats and tails for the city officials - and the poetic proclamation, watch the video, below.