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The Morning Brew: Five things about Groundhog Day

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5 things about groundhog day

It's February 2, also known as Groundhog Day. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow today it means six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't spring will arrive early. Of course it's completely ludicrous on virtually every level, but also uniquely American. Here are five things about Groundhog Day. 

Why groundhogs get the gig

Groundhogs are one of the few species of rodents that hibernate, and build a den to spend the winter, usually beginning in late fall until March or April. Like bears, they store body fat before taking their long snooze, emerging with enough left to tide them over until food becomes more plentiful in spring. 

Grizzly bears, Will and Wiley enjoy boxes filled with fruits and vegetables during a Groundhog Day ceremony at the Oklahoma City Zoo Thursday, February 2, 2012. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman
Grizzly bears, Will and Wiley enjoy boxes filled with fruits and vegetables during a Groundhog Day ceremony at the Oklahoma City Zoo Thursday, February 2, 2012. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

When groundhogs aren't available...

The Oklahoma City Zoo holds a Groundhog Day observance every year, but they don't have any groundhogs so they use grizzly bears Will and Wiley. 

In this Jan. 31. 2018 photo, Dusty Thune, from St. Paul, Minn., carves a snow block at the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship in Lake Geneva, Wis. Fifteen teams from 10 states have gathered in Wisconsin for the annual event. The Minnesota team, of which Thune is part, is creating a twisted President Donald Trump face in a suit called "Peep," with the caption "Tweet with a Twist." The entries will be judged Saturday on creativity, technique and message. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)
In this Jan. 31. 2018 photo, Dusty Thune, from St. Paul, Minn., carves a snow block at the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship in Lake Geneva, Wis. Fifteen teams from 10 states have gathered in Wisconsin for the annual event. The Minnesota team, of which Thune is part, is creating a twisted President Donald Trump face in a suit called "Peep," with the caption "Tweet with a Twist." The entries will be judged Saturday on creativity, technique and message. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)

The predictions aren't very accurate 

According to some experts, the groundhog's predictions on how much longer winter will last are accurate about 39 percent of the time, which isn't bad for a rodent. 

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 126th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. Phil saw his shadow, forecasting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 126th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. Phil saw his shadow, forecasting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The first official Groundhog Day was held in 1887 

The first observance might have technically been in 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, but the first official day was in 1887, the first time townsfolk went to Gobblers Nob, a section of town, to get weather advice from a rodent. 



Phil Connors meets Ned Ryerson again and again...

Bill Murray turned Groundhog Day into one of the 1990s most popular comedies playing a weatherman assigned to cover the annual observance only to get trapped in a time loop repeating the same day over and over again. 

UPDATE: Phil has spoken. Six more weeks of winter. 

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›

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