This is not a holiday. This is a cruel piece of calendrical torture, based on a falsehood, steeped in ignorance, and lightly sprinkled with shaved, frozen tears. Rather than speak a word about it or utter the name of that fat sack of prognostication, we should just watch the movie again. It's a perfect movie, and views the day with the contempt it deserves.
Why does this day exist? Wikipedia is helpful, as always: "According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks."
Uh huh. Also, according to folklore, a thin paste of lead and mustard cures toothaches. There are poems involved, of course: If Candlemas be fair and bright / Winter has another flight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain / Winter will not come again."
It rhymes, which is your guarantee of empirically-proven conclusions.
It matters where the creature lives, of course. Weather is a complex global system, and the prevailing conditions in Pennsylvania are unlikely to have an effect on Minnesotans. Or anyone else. Or even Pennsylvanians. So there are many local observances, with creatures like Chesapeake Chuck, Staten Island Chuck, Buckeye Chuck, Octorara Orphie, Shubenacadie Sam, and Nibbles. To name a few.
Now for the sad part where scientists have to take this seriously.
According to Groundhog Day organizers, the rodents' forecasts are accurate 75% to 90% of the time. However, a Canadian study for 13 cities in the past 30 to 40 years found that the weather patterns predicted on Groundhog Day were only 37% accurate over that time period. According to the StormFax Weather Almanac and records kept since 1887, Punxsutawney Phil's weather predictions have been correct 39% of the time. The National Climatic Data Center has described the forecasts as "on average, inaccurate" and stated that "[t]he groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the arrival of spring, especially in recent years.
It's not without drama. One year the groundhog bit Mayor Bloomberg; the next year Mike chewed its leg off, spat it out and addressed the crowd by howling gibberish from his grue-strewn mouth. Okay, no, not that last part. But this is true:
Five years later, on February 2, 2014, Bloomberg's mayoral successor, Bill de Blasio, dropped "Chuck" (subsequently revealed to be Chuck's granddaughter, "Charlotte"), who seven days later died of "acute internal injuries". At the city's next Groundhog Day event on February 2, 2015, "Staten Island Chuck" walked out of a hutch that an elevator had lifted onto the stage of a portable Plexiglass-enclosed habitat, while de Blasio watched from six feet away.
They make it sound like Chuck had a restraining order on Bill.
Anyway. This is the real indicator of winter's duration.
Do you see this? Then there will be more winter.