It’s a holiday most people forget about until their Google homepage declares it: Groundhog Day.
I once got extra credit in a journalism class for on-the-spot knowing and correctly spelling the name of the groundhog icon who looks for his shadow each year, so keep reading because this information may prove more useful than you expect. It’s Punxsutawney Phil, by the way.
And for those of you who have been underground (ha) about Groundhog Day, it’s Feb. 2.
Despite not being properly recognized beyond cute groundhog crafts in kindergarten, Groundhog Day has been persevered as a B-list celebrity of holidays – a national tradition in both the United States and Canada.
Since your kindergarten mind may not have retained facts of the eccentric tradition, the gist of it is that based on old German lore, if a groundhog emerges from his burrow and sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter weather are to follow. If the groundhog does not see his shadow, spring weather should arrive early.
So now, groundhogs are watched symbolically in ceremonies across the country, most popularly in Pennsylvania where the real Punxsutawney Phil himself (reincarnated year after year since the 1800s, not unlike Santa Claus) resides.
Skeptics more meteorologically-inclined and less holiday-driven will be sure to pay more attention to the predicted week-by-week weather patterns that come from experts of the less rodent-like variety. The weather predicted for the “official” ceremony in Pennsylvania is partly sunny skies and a temperature around 30 degrees, with that sunlight meaning that Phil is likely to be able to see a shadow.
But the fun of the whole matter is watching to find out. A full and well-attended festival precedes the actual shadow ceremony, which is hosted around 7:25 a.m. EST. People travel from all over the country to put the fate of their next couple months in the tiny paws of a little critter.
And although Groundhog Day has not inspired quite the extensive collection of mainstream film and literature that Christmas boasts, this holiday certainly has its own classic – the comedy film (and later stage production,) Groundhog Day, starring the famous Bill Murray.
And a fun fact for all the “I live in a suburb of Chicago, you’ve probably never heard of it though” kids at Bradley: Groundhog Day was filmed in Woodstock, IL. That’s right, Bill Murray was treading close to or directly in the town you’re from, for months.
The legendary 1993 film has cemented its place in cinematic history with its now often-replicated “time loop” narrative, in which a protagonist must relive the same event repeatedly until an issue is resolved. That trope and concept has even been casually named after Groundhog Day. So, a different legacy than the actual traditional occurrences of Groundhog Day, but another legacy all the same, while celebrating an eccentricity of human culture.
So, how does one celebrate Groundhog Day? If you’re not willing to make the trek to Pennsylvania, the event is live streamed to the public Saturday morning. If that weekend date is reserved for sleeping in and not leaving bed, the movie Groundhog Day is worth a rent (or a totally legal download.) And don’t even get me started on all the Pinterest ways to recognize the date – a toned down, broke college student method of recognition will do just fine.
Perhaps this holiday is not rooted in reality, but if the world is giving you the opportunity to brighten your Saturday in this small way … Why not celebrate Groundhog Day?