With grey skies above and snowflakes falling, Buckeye Chuck popped his head out for a few minutes today, Groundhog Day, and made his prediction for the rest of winter. Buckeye Chuck did not see his shadow, and therefore, that means we'll have an early spring. The United States' most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania agreed with Chuck's prediction, and also did not see his shadow when he emerged from his cozy burrow this morning.
According to legends, if a groundhog sees its shadow on February 2, Groundhog Day, then we will have 6 more weeks of winter. If the groundhog does not see its shadow, then it means an early spring.
Buckeye Chuck has been Ohio's official groundhog since 1979. Punxsutawney Phil has been making his predictions for 123 years. It should be noted that groundhogs have an average lifespan of six years in the wind and 10 in captivity, so rather than the same groundhog making predictions each year, it's probably a series of relatives.
Groundhog Day stems from an ancient Celtic tradition. Around the fifth century, European Celts believed that animals had certain supernatural powers on special days that were halfway between Winter Equinox and Spring Solstice, or 40 days after Christmas and 40 days before Easter.
This formerly pagan observance was called Candlemas Day when Christianity came into being, and in the United States, Candlemas Day became Groundhog Day. Current tradition holds that if the groundhog does not see his shadow on Feb. 2, then spring is just around the corner, but if a groundhog spies his shadow then its at least six more weeks of winter.