Groundhog doesn't see his shadow, predicting early spring

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths center holds Punxsutawney Phil

If not, spring will make an early appearance, according to the legend.

It may be hard to believe as a large swath of the USA thaws out from a bitter polar vortex, but spring is coming early, according to handlers for some of the country's most famous prognosticating groundhogs.

During the Prohibition era, Punxsutawney Phil "threatened" to impose 60 more weeks of winter if he wasn't allowed a stiff drink.

Phil aka Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, Weather Predictor Extraordinaire, National Treasure and Most Photographed Pennsylvanian, has lead an extraordinary life.

As the Midwest and East Coast try to recover from this week's risky Arctic blast, Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog geared up to reveal whether an early spring is on the way or if winter will stick around. "Phil! Phil!" to wake up the sleepy groundhog.

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This is only the 19th occasion in which Phil has not been able to see his shadow since 1887.

The origins of Groundhog Day date back to the early days of Christianity in Europe, according to the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.

Groundhog Day has its roots in an early Christian celebration known as Candlemas Day, which marked the point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

According to Stormfax, Phil's predictions have been correct in 39 percent of the time. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. When German settlers arrived in the United States, they brought the tradition with them, swapping hedgehogs for groundhogs. It was then that a newspaper editor who happened to be a part of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Punxsutawney Phil was America's only true weather-forecasting groundhog.

'If I were you I'd go out and buy swimsuits, ' he told the crowd after waking up Phil just after 7.27am.

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