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No, Punxsutawney Phil did not die a day before Groundhog Day

His New Jersey counterpart, Milltown Mel, did "recently cross the rainbow bridge," according to his handlers.

MILLTOWN, N.J. — Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow Wednesday and saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter!

Several people were confused after the report, saying they thought Punxsutawney Phil died yesterday, a day before Groundhog Day, and the celebration was cancelled, but that is not the case.

Unfortunately, Milltown Mel, Punxsutawney Phil's New Jersey counterpart, did pass away, according to multiple reports. The Groundhog Day celebration in Milltown was cancelled due to the inability to find a replacement Mel. 

We Wranglers are sad to report that Milltown Mel recently crossed over the rainbow bridge. Considering the average...

Posted by Milltown Mel on Sunday, January 30, 2022

Milltown Mel's handlers said that the average lifespan for a groundhog is just three years, so it is normal for a rotation of rodents to fill in the big shoes. 

“Groundhog Day” is currently a holiday unique to the United States and Canada, but it stems from European holidays held at the beginning of February that included weather predictions as part of their traditions. 

Groundhogs, a species native to North America, became the animal of choice when Germans immigrated to western Pennsylvania. The new, Americanized tradition remained alive until the first official trek to today’s Groundhog Day location at Gobbler’s Knob in 1887, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

While the American Groundhog Day might be the most well-known of today’s weather-predicting holidays, it’s not the only one that remains. In Serbia, for example, bears predict the end of winter on a Feb. 15 holiday called Sretenje. On the German Seven Sleepers’ Day in late June, the weather that day is supposed to predict the average weather for the next seven weeks. In the United Kingdom, St. Swithin Day on July 15 is supposed to signal 40 straight days of rain or sunshine depending on the weather that day.

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