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Waiting with Bated Breath for Groundhog Day

With the recent cold snap, the prospect of Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter on Feb. 2 is especially daunting.

Groundhog Day is on Saturday, Feb. 2 this year, and the recent Arctic temperatures are giving the day a bit more resonance than usual.

According to the myth, if a groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; if he does not, spring is right around the corner.

Last year, Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter while Staten Island Chuck called for an early spring.

Groundhog Day and other similar legends are based on the beliefs of Europeans, but the true origins of the holiday are lost in time. The day originated from the Germans, Scots and early Christian Europeans.

It is celebrated every year on Feb. 2. On this day, a groundhog comes out of its burrow and checks for his shadow to determine how soon spring will arrive.

Groundhog Day as we know it in the U.S. started because the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers wanted to know if spring was coming early or not. That information helped them decide when they should plant seeds and half their hay.

Europeans used hedgehogs as the animal that determined the season change but Pennsylvania Dutch farmers chose the groundhog because they were found in greater numbers in North America. Groundhog Day stemmed from the ancient traditions of Candlemas, a holiday that originated in early Christian Europe that was celebrated by the Germans.

In central Pennsylvania, the people of Punxsutawney hold celebrations as they wait for Punxsutawney Phil, the native groundhog resident of the town, to come out of his burrow and check for his shadow.

Tell Us: Do you think Phil's prediction will be correct? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

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