I Hate Punxsutawney Phil.

Maxine Mah

The age-old “Groundhog Day” started as a tradition between Pennsylvania’s original colonists. Candlemas, or “Badger Day” as it was first called, celebrates the clairvoyant abilities of some type of animal, bears and foxes being known to take part in the tradition as well. If the animal — most likely a badger — gets scared of its own shadow, it predicts six more weeks of winter. If it isn’t frightened, then winter would be cut short. In more recent years we’ve been using Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog, to be the oracle of weather for February and March. The current Phil has “been alive for 136 years” — although the average lifespan of a groundhog is only three. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club also states that in Phil’s free time he likes to, “enjoy a good book and read the daily newspaper.” Disgusting.

While it may seem incredibly harsh to say that I hate a soft, cuddly, adorable little groundhog, I absolutely do, and nothing will change my mind. 

You may be asking, “But Maxine, this doesn’t explain why you absolutely despise Punxsutawney Phil? After all, why would anyone hate on a cute, ‘just for fun,’ tradition?” The answer to this question is simple. I hate weather — specifically anything below 70 degrees and sunny. And being as superstitious as I am, I thoroughly and wholeheartedly blame Phil for San Diego’s awful weather. 

Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of snow, rain, and wind — as if I couldn’t get enough of it from the past couple of weeks. But I grew up in Pittsburgh, not only a mere hour and a half drive away from Phil’s hometown of Punxsutawney, but also the home of every single season. Hot, humid, sticky summers; snowy, icy winters; windy, frigid falls; and wet, rainy springs. Of course, I love an occasional snow day or a beautiful 90-degree summer evening with absolutely no wind and thousands of mosquitoes mauling your body, but did we not all come to San Diego for a reason? No day above 85, and nothing below 60 — it’s every old-person-looking-to-retire’s dream. But, as I’m sure we’re all aware, the weather recently has been everything but exactly what we want it to be. 

I’ve been walking to each of my classes in what seems to be a tug-of-war between sunny with clouds, cloudy, rainy, and pouring all interchanging within five-minute intervals. Even though the past week was forecasted to be rainy, it seems as though the weather widget on my phone has been lying to me, or it can’t keep up with the moody weather patterns Phil hath forced upon us. And we cannot forget about the national weather warning we all received because of the literal 30 mph winds taking over campus. As someone with bangs, how am I supposed to combat this? I’M COVERING MY FOREHEAD FOR A REASON. Even besides awful wind and on-and-off rain, what I just cannot forgive is the 50-degree weather we’ve been experiencing. I know we have it better than a lot of other places in the world. 50-degree weather even means the start of summer for some. But as a spoiled San Diegan, I can’t take it. If I wanted to live in windy 50-degree weather, I would’ve picked a different school. And don’t even get me started on thunder and lightning. Up until I was ten, I had to cover my ears to watch fireworks and movies in theaters. Sitting in my dorm room listening to Mother Nature wreak havoc outside is a real-life nightmare. The final cherry on top of this wonderful prediction is the blizzard and hail warnings in nearby regions of California. 

So yes, I despise Punxsutawney Phil. Why does a groundhog get to control our weather for the next few weeks? And why can’t he just learn what a shadow is? Why does he have to be so scared? And the most pressing question of all: why is his prediction always so accurate? 

Would I like to give him a big hug and cuddle next to a beautifully lit, crackling fire? Yes. Do I think he’s absolutely adorable? Yes. But I do strongly believe we need to abolish Groundhog Day and instead simply manifest as a community that warm temperatures will come sooner.

While I love my keystone state, sometimes traditions aren’t meant to last forever, especially ones that use animals to predict the weather. In the meantime, I hope there will be one Groundhog Day where Phil learns that his shadow is harmless. A day where he can step out of his hovel and enjoy the sunshine — the sun that he predicted — and let it wash over his lovely brown coat. And on that day maybe I’ll learn to appreciate the wonders of Groundhog Day and all the joy and love that this little Pennsylvanian groundhog has given us. But now is not that time. In this 50-degree-sunny-but-cloudy-rainy-but-windy weather, it is very much not that time. So for now I say, Phuck Phil, and Phuck Groundhog Day! 

Art by Amanda Salatino