NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — It’s the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and it’s historically been a day where we hang our hats on the forecast from a sleepy groundhog.

Punxsutawney Phil is the biggest celebrity in the United States on February 2nd and it all started in the mid-5th century in Europe. According to the official Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, it started as a Christian religious holiday called Candlemas Day. Candles were blessed at the church to bring a joyful second half of winter. This became a widely celebrated tradition across Europe.

The Germans decided to introduce the hedgehog. On Candlemas Day, if the hedgehog saw its shadow, there would be a “second winter” – or six more weeks of bad weather. As Germans settled in the United States, so too did the tradition and folklore. Hedgehogs aren’t as plentiful in Pennsylvania so they chose a similar local animal, the groundhog.

The very first Groundhog Day celebration at the famous Gobber’s knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania was in 1887. Thousands make the trek each year to see what the groundhog will proclaim. It is said that Phil does not make his predictions early on. They’re made that day and given to the Groundhog Club President in a language only they can understand. It’s then translated to the public as a prognostication. If there is no shadow, spring arrives early… if a shadow is seen, that means a long winter is in store.

Punxsutawney Phil has an accuracy rating of about 30%.