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Topper's blog: Groundhog Day, History of Groundhog Day

11:34 PM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
(courtesy: www.groundhog.org)
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Groundhog Day

Every February 2nd a group of bearded men reach in a cage and pull out a groundhog. The two most famous or infamous are Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania and Beauregard Lee in Georgia. The lore is that if he sees his shadow he gets scared and runs back into his lair preparing for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow then he remains out and declares winter over. This February marks the 127th year of this rather bizarre tradition. He has declared spring only 15 times. He has not seen his shadow only thirteen percent of the time. I guess the television lights don't count. I  think he'll see is shadow again today.

 

The Roman's celebrated a similar day also in early February. There are a lot of pagan ties to this day and tradition. February's Latin derivatives imply February to be a month for purification.  In England this day was called Candlemas Day. This day was celebrated by a parade of candles. This day marked the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Much like Phil's idea of forecasting if the weather were nice on that day then more winter was ahead but if the weather were bad then here comes spring. Later the tradition in England involved hedgehogs. Hedgehogs were chosen because they are insectivores. If the insects were out then the hedgehogs were out and winter was over. Since we have no hedgehogs we use groundhogs (ground squirrel). So let's get this straight...we use the wrong animal for the wrong thing for a pagan holiday. In fact the groundhog hibernates and would not be out and about anyway. Sometimes Phil bites his handler. Can you blame him ?