Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today. Well, it’s 70 degrees here, but it’s probably cold where you are. Anyway, happy Groundhog’s Day, everyone.
This is one of those holidays that fascinated me as a kid. I think it was the mystery surrounding the whole holiday (I hesitate to use the term holiday) that really captivated me every February 2nd. This was the extent I was told about Groundhog’s Day:
“Every February 2nd, the groundhog comes out and if he see’s his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter.”
That’s it. That’s all I got. This is what I had to wrap my childhood brain around and formulate some kind of sense out of it. Luckily for me, I required things to make little sense for me to accept them as absolute truth. I pictured a special groundhog that came out of a hole in the ground somewhere in the wild (I never bothered wondering where) with a few important scientists lurking behind a nearby tree to see if the groundhog casted a shadow or not.
It was a lot more plausible than a man flying around the world in one night delivering presents down chimneys and consuming ten tons of cookies.
The 6 more weeks of winter twist was an obligatory coincidence that never really got carried out and I accept that as well. Moreover, I never really knew when the end of winter officially was so whether it ended 6 weeks early of 6 weeks late, I never had any idea.
Recently, I realized that it probably wasn’t because I was a kid that I was so clueless about Groundhog’s Day. I think seven year olds and adults alike where just as confused about the mysterious surroundings of the early February American holiday. It’s probably why parents gave so little information to their kids about it, because they, too, could merely speculate about what really happens on Groundhog’s Day.
Enter Bill Murray. His smash hit 1993 movie Groundhog Day full of quotable quotes changed how Americans viewed February 2nd. On top of being hilarious, Groundhog Day gave us a real picture of what actually happens in Punxutawney, Pennsylvania. I think this information alone was worth the price of admission and a few VHS rentals at the local video store.
I was 10 when the movie came out and my jaw was stuck to the gum on the theater floor from how wrong my depiction of the scene was. If you by some chance are just waking up from a 17 year coma and have never seen the movie or ceremony, here is what happens with pictures included.
In a park filled elbow to elbow with tourists and newscasters stands a stage with a fake tree stump on it. A bunch of old men in top hats dressed like they’re in an 1850’s GQ magazine parade around and talk for a minute about how important they are. Then one of the old dudes goes to the tree stump and opens a little door, and pulls out the star of the show, Punxutawney Phil…who also has a silly little hat on. This is where it gets good. The old man holds Phil up to his ear and waits for several seconds. The then announces to the anxious crowd whether or not Phil said he saw his shadow or not.
And that’s it.
I’m sure there are people who honestly believe this weather prediction to be true. It’s hard to get an accurate historical count as to how correct Phil has been over the years, but he has only predicted an early spring 14 times since 1887. He’s definitely a glass-half-empty kind of groundhog.
To end your suspense, the little bastard saw his shadow again today, and he’s probably laughing about it right now. He can captivate the entire nation, deliver a complete fabrication, and ruin everyone’s day all at once. And he’s a groundhog.
Honestly, the fact that this tradition has maintained prominence for so long is why the terrorists hate America.