Meet Punxsutawney Phil, or just Phil for short is probably the most famous ground hog ever. And I had the honor of painting his portrait just before his big day. It’s officially ground hog day 2018. I asked him if he has stage fright before his big day, or if he worries he might oversleep, but he said after all these years it’s no big deal. There is a lot of pressure not to see his shadow, so that spring can come sooner…but if you look hard enough you can usually find one…
Here are a few fun facts:
Yes! Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just impostors.
How often is Phil’s prediction correct? 100% of the time, of course!
How many “Phils” have there been over the years? There has only been one Punxsutawney Phil. He has been making predictions for over 131 years!
Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking the “elixir of life,” a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life.
On February 2, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob – in front of thousands of followers from all over the world – to predict the weather for the rest of winter.
According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
No! Phil’s forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2, he speaks to the Groundhog Club president in “Groundhogese”(a language only understood by the current president of the Inner Circle). His proclamation is then translated for the world.
The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, “For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”
Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800s. The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob was made on February 2, 1887.
So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br’er Groundhog.
You can learn more about this fun and very low maintenance holiday here.
This original 6″x6″ oil painting is available, unframed, for $100 here.