Groundhog’s Day is by far my favorite of all holidays, probably because, in the words of Audioslave, “it doesn’t remind me of anything.” It’s a nice, little holiday, without any baggage – which is also probably why it sneaks up on me. There are no Groundhog’s Day sales, no parades (except in Punxsutawney), no Hallmark Groundhog’s Day cards (well, to be honest, I haven’t checked), and no one gets the day off. But still, it’s a nice, clean little holiday.
It does, however, have one of the great holiday movies, aptly titled Groundhog’s Day, starring, of course, Bill Murray. It’s one of those holiday movies that you can watch anytime, over and over again. It’s just a great, nearly perfect movie, with a good message (and lots of humor).
Groundhog’s Day (the holiday, not the movie) is apparently derived from an old German superstition that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Candlemas, it will mean 6 more weeks of winter. How the groundhog became the official hibernating animal, or how Punxsutawney Phil became the official American groundhog, I don’t know. Perhaps Phil – who must be about 150 years old now – knows, but he just isn’t talking. I wouldn’t, if I were him – it’s a great gig for a large rodent. Canada also “celebrates” Groundhog’s Day, but I don’t know if they have their own Groundhog, or have adopted ours.
According to Wikipedia, the holiday originated in Punxsutawney, PA in 1887, but records show that the first note of the day, referencing the German superstition, was in a storekeeper’s diary for Feb 2, 1841. However, it appears the holiday actually originated with the Romans, who celebrated February 2nd as Hedgehog Day.
Whatever. I think I’ll stick with the German tradition, and celebrate with a little sausage, a little beer, and a little Bill Murray.
The lowly groundhog, mysterious in his powers over the passing of winter. Let us lift high our pints and celebrate the winter, and the passing of it, so soon.