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Why Are We Still Doing This: A Groundhog Day Exposé

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Clemson chapter.

February 2nd is observed annually by millions of people across the country as Groundhog Day. This Saturday marks the 133rd Groundhog Day in our nation’s history, a day where we rely on a prognosticating rodent for insight into our seasonal change predictions. Adoring fans and disillusioned town members will grace us with their presence at Gobbler’s Knob (prime groundhog real estate) to determine if the nation’s climate will experience another six weeks of winter.

For 122 years, the ceremony has taken place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and centers on a singular groundhog named after these hallowed grounds. Punxsutawney Phil is said to be immortal and is definitely not replaced by an ever-evolving stream of groundhogs of the same bloodline waiting in the wings. There is no way that any groundhog other than Punxsutawney Phil could possibly possess the same extrasensory perception as he.

Punxsutawney Phil is so iconic that he has an “Inner Circle,” comprised of 60-year-old white men in top hats who plan the Groundhog Day festivities and care for Phil during the off-season. The Inner Circle members are also the only people who can understand Groundhogese and interpret Phil’s poetic weather predictions. Convenient, right? The Inner Circle is so alarmingly loyal that they claim his predictions are accurate 100 percent of the time – WHAT? I also presume that they will stop at nothing to protect Punxsutawney Phil and anyone who threatens his honor.

Some of you may be wondering if there is a scientific basis to this madness; the answer is no. Groundhog Day is derived from German settlers who believed heavily in animalism and nature worship traditions. The official claim is that, if the groundhog comes out of its hole and sees its shadow, he will be frightened by it and return to his burrow, indicating another six weeks of winter. Punxsutawney Phil is wrong almost every time, yet we still give him unbridled support because his prediction is “non-geographically specific.” That’s right. So if Phil predicts a long winter, it’s probably true somewhere in the world. His integrity remains intact, perpetuating the cycle.

So why are we still celebrating this holiday? Is Groundhog Day just a leveraging tool for tourism and town identity for Punxsutawney, PA, population 5,788? Are the Gobbler’s Knob annual festivities drawing dangerous parallels to a systematically oppressive society ruled by an inner circle under the guise of a false rodent overlord? Perhaps Punxsutawney Phil is just a figure of quirky mystique offering a sliver of hope to the American people in the dead of winter. Whatever your take, this is still a hilariously archaic tradition, so be sure to tune in and be a witness!

This Saturday’s celebratory activities will begin at the ungodly hour of 3 am at Gobbler’s Knob with a stage show. Punxsutawney Phil will make his so-called “prediction” around 7:25 am, televised on the USA network.


Hi, I'm Justine! I'm a senior Health Administration student with fun-mom-energy and a spunky personality! Likes: improv comedy, breakfast sandwiches, thrift stores, plush throws, complex salads Dislikes: moral dilemmas, American cheese, wet countertops, physical competitions
Kate Freed

Clemson '21

Hi! My name is Kate Freed and I'm from Raleigh, NC. I'm a sophomore Communication major at Clemson University. I love all things fitness, food, and fashion. I teach kickboxing and barre and am passionate about motivating others to be their best selves.