Shadows aren't just for groundhogs

Story highlights

  • iReporters capture their shadows for a one-day photo challenge
  • Punxsutawney Phil misses his shadow on Groundhog Day
  • Staten Island Chuck also says spring is on the way

Saturday was Groundhog Day-- the unofficial American holiday where we wait for a fuzzy rodent to tell us whether spring will arrive early or if we'll have to endure another six weeks of winter.

Relying on the weather predictions of a groundhog may seem like a strange tradition, but the practice dates back to medieval times. The superstitious believed that hibernating animals would emerge from their long winter slumber to check on the weather on Candlemas, which is halfway between the winter solstice in December and the vernal equinox in March.

They believed that if the animals saw their shadows, winter would continue, and so they went back to sleep. But if they didn't see their shadow, an early spring was on its way.

Famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow Saturday morning in Pennsylvania. Neither did his fellow foreteller Staten Island Chuck.

In honor of this quirky American tradition, CNN iReport invited people to take a snapshot of their own shadows for a one-day photo challenge and then share their personal weather predictions.

Punxsutawney Phil predicts early spring
Punxsutawney Phil predicts early spring


    Punxsutawney Phil predicts early spring


Punxsutawney Phil predicts early spring 01:52

Lia Ocampo says she is tired of the frigid weather in Queens, New York, and hopes for an early spring. "Unfortunately, my shadow predicts a longer winter weather," she said. "That means we have to be patient, bundle up more and wait for the spring to come in time."

But Michael Goodling predicts the exact opposite. "Actually, I believe that temperatures will warm up a bit early this year because of the brutal sub-zero temps all across the country," he said.

Gooding, who recently returned to Springfield, Missouri, from Swaziland, says he has not seen snow in a long time. "I love snow. I would like to see a good, deep snow where I live. On the other hand, I love spring and how the flowers pop up, trees begin to leaf out," he said. "There is such a freshness to spring."

Kathi Cordsen, a long-time resident of Fullerton, California, predicts a shorter winter, too. "We don't really have a true winter here," she said. "Spring is going to come early as usual. Buds should be on the trees very soon."