Groundhog Day is of course an ingenious premise: a jerk is stuck in a time loop forced to relive the same day over and over and over until he becomes a kind, generous man and finally understands love. It's a moral tale that will almost certainly stand the test of time.

It's a story that could have been set in any place or time. But there's also the added element that the story takes place during America's most unappreciated and hokey holiday in the boonies of Pennsylvania.

Why did the screenwriters or producers decide to set the film on Groundhog Day, in Punxsutawney? When in the movie-making process did they make that decision, or was it a "Groundhog Day movie" from inception?

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    Well, if it had been set on Independence Day, the movie would have been called Independence Day. ;-)
    – matt_black
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 11:07
  • 4
    @matt_black - well, besides, if they had set it on Independence Day, then Phil would have to relive the aliens blowing up Punxsutawney every day.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 6:02
  • BTW, for some reason, I only now realized this question was asked a day after Groundhog Day.
    – Walt
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 6:24

1 Answer 1


Apparently, it was mostly arbitrary. From a TCM article about the film:

Some viewers may be surprised to learn that there was no major reason why Groundhog Day was the holiday chosen for the film's backdrop. In an online interview with [the film's] writer [Danny] Rubin, he explains: "There were many reasons that Groundhog Day was a good arbitrary choice. It was a good choice because it's in the dead of winter. That made good sense for the story since the main character was stuck in his darkest day. It made sense that the character would come from out of town, and that the character was predicting the weather.... It's also an 'unexploited' movie holiday. The reason it became Groundhog Day was that I got the idea right around that time, and I happened to be one of the few people outside Pennsylvania that knew about it."

Rubin further elaborated in this Telegraph article that he just picked it out of a calendar:

When I sat down to begin writing this screenplay the first thing I knew I had to figure out was which day was repeating. To begin, I simply opened the calendar and the first holiday I came across was Groundhog Day, February 2. Yes, it was that simple.

In America people are vaguely aware of a holiday called “Groundhog Day”, and that somewhere there is a large rodent whose emergence from his burrow tells spectators whether or not spring is going to come early. But because of a writing job I had done years before for a Pennsylvania phone company I was one of the few people outside of that state who knew that the groundhog festival took place in a small town called Punxsutawney.

By choosing Punxsutawney I had a small, claustrophobic place for my character to get stuck. I also had a reason for my character, a weatherman, to go to the town: to cover the groundhog festival. I even had a name for my character: Phil, which I had borrowed from the famous groundhog.

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    (I recommend the entire article in that second link, BTW. Rubin explains in detail how he came to write the film and includes some interesting tidbits.)
    – Walt
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 22:59
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    TIL Groundhog Day: The Musical exists...
    – Jason C
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 2:00
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    I find it odd that there are mentions in both the question AND answer about Groundhog Day being an obscure holiday outside of Pennsylvania. I grew up in Texas, where the idea of "winter" is a joke, and yet we STILL know about Groundhog Day.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 6:05
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    @Omegacron What are the odds you know about the Holiday BECAUSE of the movie? Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 8:05
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    @VincentVancalbergh - nope, known about it since I was a kid back in the 70's. In either Kindergarten or 1st grade, the teacher had us make groundhogs out of construction paper. One of those early memories that stick with you.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 18:34

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