The whole concept is amazing to me. As one of our most popular and widely anticipated folklore celebrations, Groundhog Day is such a seemingly-silly tradition. How does the groundhog seeing his shadow determine if winter remains or if the season has come to an end? I always watch with amazement at the man who holds up the groundhog for all to see. It is a national media sensation.
Apparently, this practice is rooted in a European tradition called Candlemas Day. The clergy would bless candles and distribute them to the people. Depending on the weather during Candlemas Day, the people could determine if there would be a “second winter.” If the weather was clear and bright, the cold winter fight would continue. If the weather was wet and foul, then they knew the worst of winter had passed.
This same logic applies to Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow on February 2nd each year. If the weather is clear, Punxsutawney Phil will likely see his shadow and we can plan for another six weeks of winter. If it is overcast and rainy, we can assume spring is right around the corner!
In Pennsylvania this week there will be a man who picks up the animal and twirls him around for all to see, proclaiming the weather status. I shake my head in disbelief that anyone would want to pickup a groundhog!
Now let me really share my insight into this situation. It was several months after we were married and was standing in the bathroom getting ready to go out to dinner with friends. I looked out the window and staring up at me was this animal. He was big and stood up on his back legs just gazing. I don’t know who was more shocked—the groundhog or me. I called for Neal quickly and explained there was a creature in the backyard that was staring at me. That was a mistake, big mistake. He explained that it was a groundhog and then proceeded to continually harass me about my new and mesmerized admirer.
I watched him finally walk off to his burrow, which was located right off the edge of our yard. He comes up into the yard from time to time to eat one of my prized flowers, still big, brown, and very ugly.
Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? It is worth the watch! It is an old movie and very funny, I think of it often and laugh.
Anyway… Happy Groundhog Day to all of us! I hope your life is filled with warmth and love as you enjoy this holiday.
Tell me your groundhog stories!