Willie calls for six more weeks of winter

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"Six more weeks of Winter to go!"

South of the border, the handlers of Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, said he too was calling for six more weeks of winter.

But if cloudy sky prevents the groundhog from seeing its shadow, winter will soon yield to spring. It is based on a German legend surrounding Candlemas.

Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam was the first of the famed furry prognosticators to emerge from their lairs on Groundhog Day, the popular tradition held every February 2 in North America. This year's groundhog is an "understudy" to the previous Willie, who died last September. If not, spring comes early.

The prediction marked the debut for the newest Wiarton Willie, a three-year-old groundhog that was found on a farm in Oro-Medonte a few years ago. He emerged from his den just after 8 a.m.

The puppet at Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba Merv, called for an early spring because it didn't see its shadow.

Six weeks or not, we can look for a chilly week ahead.

While the inspiration behind one truly brilliant comedy, the Groundhog Day rituals celebrated in several cities (it's not just Punxsutawney, folks) across North America are little more than an annual lesson in futile perfunctoriness.

"I'm looking forward to see him predict the weather for another 10 or 15 years".

Perhaps aware of this, and deeply surly about the empty routine, a certain groundhog has struck back against the tradition, attempting a daring escape and biting a member of the attendant, nattering press at a Groundhog Day celebration.