While everyone focuses on the Super Bowl, a diminutive mammal that gets its literal 15 minutes of fame once a year will peek out of its winter home, one state over.
Groundhog’s Day is upon us, and Punxsutawney Phil is going to pop out, or be dragged out, of his hole in Pennsylvania and tell us how much winter is left.
In addition to falling on Super Bowl Sunday this year, the second of February marks the approximate midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, one of four cross-quarter days that occur each year halfway between the solstices and equinoxes, Astronomy.com tells us. The exact midpoint day this year is February 3.
Since December 21, the winter has seemed long and dark. The days have been lengthening, but imperceptibly. However, starting around now, the light becomes apparent. After today, there will be more winter behind us than in front of us. In addition, the sunset will edge further and further north.
Of course, this does not mean an end to the cold, as Space.com said in 2012, quoting a New England proverb: "As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens."
Many cultures note the halfway mark and use it to gauge, with or without woodchuck, the onset of spring, Huffington Post pointed out in 2010. Be it the Celtic tradition of Imbolc, the Chinese Li Chu’un or Christian Candlemas, the aim is to find out just how much more cold weather we’ll have to endure. As the saying goes, "If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight: If on Candlemas day it be shower and rain, winter is gone and will not come again."
So will the groundhog see his shadow? With Super Bowl–friendly temperatures near 50 predicted and possible rain, it’s anybody’s guess. We can rest assured, though, that either way, there are only six more weeks of winter. The vernal equinox comes on March 20, regardless of what the groundhog does.