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Six more weeks of winter? Here are the predictions of groundhogs across North America

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Choose your fighter: groundhog edition.

Feb. 2 is officially Groundhog Day in Canada and the U.S., and that means multiple “official” groundhogs in different regions have stepped up to the plate to predict whether residents will endure a miserable six more weeks of winter, or be given an early spring.

Groundhog Day stems from a superstition held by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania between the 17th and 19th centuries. In medieval Europe, farmers believed that if hedgehogs emerged from their burrows to catch insects, that was a sign of an early spring. When the immigrants arrived in what became the United States, the hedgehog folklore was replaced with groundhogs.

According to the legend, if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, winter will be extended by six weeks. No shadow means an early spring.

So what did the groundhogs predict on Groundhog Day 2023? Here’s what some of the groundhogs (and one human) have predicted so far, from coast to coast.

SHUBENACADIE SAM

Shubenacadie Sam emerged from her burrow Thursday and unfortunately saw her shadow. She made her annual prediction just after 8 a.m. at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park in Shubenacadie, N.S.

The Twitter account for Sam alerted the public to her prediction and warned not to put away hats or mitts just yet.

 

 

Sam was the first groundhog to make a prediction for 2023 due to being in the Atlantic time zone.

WIARTON WILLIE

In a twist, Wiarton Willie challenged Sam’s forecast by predicting an early spring. Willie, who lives in the South Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, emerged at 8:07 a.m. and did not see his shadow.

This year’s Willie is also white-furred,according to local legend. In 2021, then-Willie died and an understudy that didn’t have the righthue was picked to replace the animal. Now this Willie is the official replacement, and has the white-hued fur.

QUEBEC REPLACES GROUNDHOG…WITH A CHILD

In a shocking turn of events, Quebec’s Fred la Marmotte died and was unable to fulfill his duties. The nine-year-old groundhog did not wake up when organizers went to check on him Wednesday night. R.I.P. to Fred.

But without an heir, a last-minute replacement had to make their own predictions. A child was picked to standin for Fred in Val d'Espoir, Que., where the ceremony takes place annually.

La Jour de Fred organizer Roberto Blondin picked a stuffed groundhog from Fred’s log cabin and handed it to the child, who then decreed that spring would be delayed.

Next year, a new Fred will return, Blondin said.

PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL

Another six weeks of winter is on its way, according to Punxatawney Phil from Pennsylvania.

The groundhog’s predictions in the town of Punxsutawney, which is about 105 kilometres northeast of Pittsburgh, is an annual event that draws thousands of people.

Phil is arguably the more authoritative groundhog, if not more famous, as Phils throughout history have made predictions in Punxsutawney since 1887. He has predicted winter more than 100 times.

With files from the Canadian Press and the Associated Press.

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