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Since Groundhog’s Day is Phil’s day in Punxsutawney, there should be an apostrophe and an extra space at the end of the phrase. For words that end in a consonant, that is the standard way to demonstrate ownership.

Punxsutawney residents are responsible for this grammatical error. They should have included an apostrophe when naming their holiday, but the name stuck.

Veterans Day is another holiday that often doesn’t have an apostrophe, even in official documents, because it’s not clear how to write it correctly.

What is a groundhog and why is it important for Groundhog’s Day?

Although they do make their homes on the ground, groundhogs have no swine ancestry, even though their compound name suggests otherwise.

Woodchuck is another confusing name for these marmots. “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if it could?” Woodchucks never chuck wood. They’re underground rodents, not wood-lovers. Southern New England Algonquian words like Narragansett ockqutchaun may have inspired the name “woodchuck.” 

The Apostrophe in Groundhog's Day

Thus, “woodchuck” is unrelated to woodchucking. English-speaking colonists altered the native word “woodchuck” to sound more familiar.

Punxsutawney is a Native American name. “Sandfly town” or “mosquito town” is Unami for Punkwsutènay (a Lenape language). The local chamber of commerce was smart to promote the town as “Groundhog’s Day” rather than “Mosquito Capital of Pennsylvania.”

The Washington Post found that “even though Phil’s predictions proved correct for some areas of the country, the difference in average temperatures between years he predicted an early spring (times he did not see his shadow) and years he did not varied by no more than a few degrees.”

So, why do we still observe Groundhog’s Day?

It appears that we have Bill Murray to thank for this. Many news outlets, like the International Business Times and HuffPost, point to the 1993 movie Groundhog Day as why the holiday has stayed so popular. Because of how popular it is getting, other cities in the United States and Canada have started doing the same thing. Phil doesn’t have the entire field to himself.

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