Post Groundhog’s Day Reflections
Good morning, dear friends! Yesterday was a strangely well remembered minor holiday! It was Groundhog’s day, and in case you missed it, Phil did see his shadow and there will be six more weeks of winter… or, you know, a week of winter followed by a thaw and then another maybe half week of coldish weather followed by more rain and so on, if you live in Western PA. Anyway, Groundhog’s day is one of those days that when you stop and think about it, is really weird. The more I ponder the concept of Groundhog’s day the more I wonder about it.
So we have this tradition where a bunch of people gather in a tiny town in Pennsylvania to watch some guys in giant coats and top hats pull a groundhog out of his hole and wait to see if he sees his shadow to indicate how much winter is left. And we have just accepted this as normal. You would think in an age where animal rights are a big thing and people have long since figured out that the seasons aren’t determined, or predicted, I suppose, by large, burrowing rodents, that this would have died down at some point. But no, it’s still a thing and people get really into it. It’s not like arbor day, which people kind of joke about but no one actually knows when it is. People know, and care about what happens on February 2nd.
That being said, I’m going to assume the town of Punxsutawney has something to do with the continuation of this strange holiday. They do, after all, get a ton of tourism because of it, at least in February. I remember watching a documentary on it when I was in grade school. The town gets super into the whole thing and go all out for the festivities and groundhog themed fun. And I feel like that might be a big part of why the whole thing is still around. It’s good for their economy, I’m sure, but also, it’s just kind of a fun holiday. Sure, no one actually believes that Phil can predict the future by his shadow spotting, but he’s kind of cute, and the men involved take it so seriously, it’s easy to play along. We see a whole town of people having fun with this groundhog and we, naturally, want to join in.
I will admit that I haven’t been super into Groundhog’s day in a long time. Thanks to Facebook, I don’t even have to check and see what the outcome was this year for myself, I’m readily informed by everyone else who did make the effort to watch or look it up. I do remember, though, being pretty into it as a kid. I was also super into the idea of my dad going down and seeing the Groundhog. My dad’s name is also Phil so my siblings and I thought it would be the greatest for Phil to get a picture with Phil. I want to think he went down and watched the whole thing once, but I don’t know if that’s true. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t mind making the trip over someday. Punxsutawney isn’t all that far from us. It’s like an hour and a half, and only half an hour from my sister-in-law, which is crazy. So really, getting up and driving up for a day would not be that bad. Mostly, however, I would just kind of like to see all the festivities and such. I really like festivals.
Did you know Groundhog’s day is celebrated in places other than Punxsutawney? I guess since I live so close and it does have the biggest celebration I thought that was the only one, but no, they have ceremonies with other groundhogs in other places! Several other towns in PA and scattered over the US and Canada and now in Russian too, apparently, though according to Wikipedia, that didn’t go so well, (The groundhog slept through the whole day). So yeah, that’s a thing I learned today. Still, Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous of the groundhogs and probably the most well known, so we still have that. I feel like I would be more excited about the wide spread of Groundhog’s day celebrations if I didn’t live closest to the biggest one anyway.
My next question to ponder was going to be if other places got as into Groundhog’s day as we do here in Western PA, or if it was just a proximity thing, but I guess that answers my question. I’m still a little baffled by the fact that the whole thing is doing the exact opposite of fading away as I might expect in the modern era of technology and science based weather prediction. Groundhog’s day is spreading, and it’s actually kind of nice. Sure it’s kind of a goofy holiday and it doesn’t actually make any sense when you think about it, but it’s fun, and it doesn’t carry the stigma of commercialism that a lot of other holidays do. Let’s face it, Valentines day is basically just an excuse to sell a bunch of flowers and chocolate and cheesy cards. Groundhog’s day has this sort of sweet, innocent quality to it. It’s a simple tradition from a simpler time, and I like that it’s still a thing. Have a lovely day, my friends.