So why do we look to a rodent each year for our winter predictions? Well, how we got to this point is a bit of a strange story.
The very first recorded Groundhog Day happened right where you might guess: Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania back in 1887!
The origins of this forecast folklore aren't completely clear, but most theories tie this tradition back to the old Christian holiday of Candlemas Day. On this day, clergy men would supposedly hand out candles, needed to last through the winter, to their congregation. If the sun was bright on this day, the clergyman would hand out more candles, as they thought the winter would be longer. If it was a cloudy day, they suspected spring wasn't far away and gave out less.
The jump from candles to groundhogs is a bit less clear. The story says that Germans decided to see if hedgehogs could see their shadow without the need of a candle ritual. Supposedly when some Germans settled into Pennsylvania they brought the tradition with them. The switch from hedgehogs to groundhogs is much easier to follow, groundhogs are more readily available than hedgehogs in Pennsylvania.
Can't make it out to Punxsutawney to see Phil?
Check out the story of our own forecasting groundhog: http://bit.ly/2BJCa2q