On Sunday, Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow due to the cloudy skies above; he declared an early spring for us all.
We all love seeing the cute face of Punxsutawney Phil in the headlines on Feb. 2; it’s a tradition we have all come to enjoy for the past century. Of course, it would be ridiculous to think that a groundhog predicting the weather has any sort of basis in science. In 2020, as global warming is getting worse, and as we discover more and more about our earth’s climate, we understand that no one can predict two and a half months of weather, especially not a groundhog.
There are merits to tradition, though. It’s always interesting to hear what Punxsutawney Phil has to say, and it’s always mentioned in small talk for the next few days. According to The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, the origin of a groundhog predicting the weather is grounded in a Christian tradition that started in ancient times. I certainly don’t think we should throw the whole practice away just because it’s not grounded in science; I think it’s valuable to have fun and silly practices to look forward to, especially for the kids of our nation.
There’s something wholesome about celebrating such a fun and carefree holiday; it reminds us to cherish the smaller things in life. It’s obvious that many people value the holiday regardless of its lack of deeper meaning. We have an entire movie dedicated to it called “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray, one of our nation’s favorite actors. In the grand scheme of things, it’s easy for us to forget about the importance of celebrating the small things. Groundhog Day is an example of how we can take a step back and get excited about the more meaningless things in life.
However, all of us should be aware that a groundhog is not a reliable predictor of the weather. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims that Phil was only correct in his predictions about 40 percent of the time in the past decade. Not too bad, considering a groundhog can predict the weather almost half of the time. But, maybe we should leave the weather predictions to the meteorologists next time, Phil.
Funnily enough, Phil has only predicted an early spring 19 times in the 134 years he’s been at it, and seven of those predictions have been in the past 10 years. Although there’s little scientific correlation between Phil’s predictions and the weather, there may be some merit to his more recent declarations on the weather. With global warming getting worse by the minute, it’s hardly a surprise that we’re having earlier springs. Perhaps it’s not that winter went late, but that the world is starting to get much warmer. In January of 2020 it reached temperatures in the 60’s. Although that was great for my morning commute across campus, it’s concerning for the future of our Earth at large.
For now though, let’s just focus on the cute, no stress holiday we get to look forward to once every year. Let Feb. 2 serve as a reminder that the little meaningless things can be just as exciting to celebrate as our biggest accomplishments. So, throw yourself a little party for getting an A on that calculus exam, reward yourself with a Netflix binge-watch for scoring that internship. Regardless of the weather, just celebrate.