Did the Groundhog See Their Shadow — and Why Do We Care?

Photo Courtesy: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

As is tradition, Pennsylvania’s own Punxsutawney Phil emerged from their burrow this morning, ready to forecast just how long 2021’s winter will last. But February 2, which usually means crowds and cameras and fireworks, looked a bit different this year. According to the Associated Press, the Groundhog Day festivities were limited to "members of Phil’s ‘inner circle,’" all of whom gathered at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, at 7:25 a.m. to rouse the furry oracle.

At one point, the event’s livestream crowd swelled to an impressive 15,000 viewers — all to see if a groundhog seer on a tiny hill 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh would glimpse their shadow. For those who may have evaded this strange little tradition, here’s the rundown: If a groundhog prognosticator sees their shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter, but, if they don’t, an early spring is ahead of us. This year, Phil predicted more winter, which isn’t surprising coming off of 2020 — an entire year that felt like a recapitulation of the Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day (1993), which sees the main character reliving the same day again and again and again. And while we may have Phil’s prediction, the question remains: Why do we care?