Sunday is Groundhog Day.
Tradition has it that Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and reveal his weather forecast for the coming weeks.
If he sees his shadow, then six more weeks of winter weather are predicted. If not, then sunny springlike days should be coming soon.
He’s been doing this for the past 133 years, or at least a groundhog — possibly from the same family — that has been dubbed Punxsutawney Phil has.
The celebration can trace its roots to the early Christian holiday of Candlemas Day, when Christians would take their candles to the church to have them blessed. They felt this would bring blessings to their households for the remaining winter, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.
Though critical to the observance of Groundhog Day, the weather prediction itself is now overshadowed by the festivities surrounding it. It has ballooned into a three-day event complete with a craft fair, scavenger hunt, wine, whiskey and cider tasting, cornhole tournament, ice and chain saw carving demonstrations, art show, mass wedding ceremony, assortment of entertainment and Oreo-stacking contest. And there’s more, much more.
It seems that Punxsutawney Phil’s appearance is just an excuse for the entire town to host a giant festival.
This is probably a good thing because his predictions haven’t been too accurate and probably shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The groundhog club’s records show that Phil has predicted more winter 103 times and early springs only 19 times. But, Stormfax Almanac’s data shows that Phil’s prognostications have only been correct about 39 percent of the time.
Perhaps a greater takeaway from Groundhog Day would come from the 1993 film starring Bill Murray as a cynical weatherman, ironically named Phil, who is sent to Punxsutawney to report on the rodent’s prediction only to find himself reliving the day over and over again.
Gradually, as Phil finds himself awakening to the same day, he begins acquiring new skills and evolving, changing his reactions to situations until he sets things straight with the cosmos and can move forward.
(Naturally, a screening of this film is included in the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, a town of around 5,800 people in Pennsylvania about 85 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.)
The movie is kind of a modern-day version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” minus the three ghosts who help Ebenezer Scrooge redeem himself. In this case, Phil the weatherman goes on his own journey of self-discovery.
I know there are instances where I wish I had a “do over” or, at the very least, the ability to forecast what the outcome will be. Alas, neither scenario is a likely possibility.
For now, we will have to be content with hoping Punxsutawney Phil gets better with his weather prognostication skills, enjoying a bowl of popcorn as we watch “Groundhog Day” — again, and learning from the other Phil to be a little less cynical.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.