It is February 2 and we all know what that means. It does not matter if it is snowing, raining, foggy or even sunny –Punxsutawney Phil is going to see his shadow. Is there even a consideration that we will not have six more weeks of winter just after the beginning of February? So, when the guys in the top hats announced that Phil DID see his shadow this morning (all while the snow was coming down like crazy), was anyone surprised? I looked it up, though, and I did get a surprise – Phil did not see his shadow in 2020. But, hey, look how that worked out for us. Sure, we didn’t have 6 more weeks of winter, but we may as well have. We were still stuck inside with no toilet paper, maraschino cherries or Clorox Wipes – just like we were in a big snowstorm! And, guess what, Phil was correct last year – Spring did come early. Over the last 20 years, he has not seen his shadow six times and he was correct five of those times. Those are rather good odds – especially for a woodchuck.
Of course, if you are reading this blog anywhere near our little library, you know we are buried in 8 to 15” of snow today. So, thinking that Spring could be right around the corner would seem kind of nuts. Personally, I am OK with staying inside (now that my Clorox Wipes stash has been replenished) and reading a good book. I was curious if there were any books written about Phil or Groundhog Day. There are many but they are mostly for the under 5 crowd. Titles like: Wake Up Groundhog, The Night Before Groundhog Day, Groundhog’s Dilemma, and my personal favorite – Mr. Groundhog Wants The Day Off. I didn’t find any books for us older folks, but I could always watch the movie starring Bill Murray and appropriately named – Groundhog Day. If you have not watched this movie – I highly recommend it. Here is a brief summary on the website imd.com : “Misanthropic TV weatherman/broadcaster, Phil Connors, is annoyed and despondent when he's assigned the job of covering the annual Groundhog festivities in the small "Hick" town of Punxsutawney - making this his fourth in a row. The only noticeable upside is his attractive and good-natured producer. But the real nightmare begins when Phil ends up reliving the same day (Groundhog Day) over, and over again. Unable to leave the town due to a severe blizzard, and with no end in sight, Phil struggles to find a way to escape (and ultimately make the best of) his seemingly hopeless situation.” It’s funny and a real feel good movie.
I did a little research into how February 2 turned into Groundhog Day. Unlike many other days on our calendars, this one was not created by Hallmark. According to History.com: “On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.
Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal—the hedgehog—as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.”
Now that I have learned a little more about Groundhog Day, I’m going to go back to reading my book and watching the snow from my window. Who knows – maybe I will get up tomorrow and, like Bill Murray, do it all over again until I get it right!