Thursday, February 01, 2007

Groundhog Day - February 2nd

So Friday, February 2nd is Groundhog Day - the day that Punxsutawney Phil, in Punxsutawney, PA comes forth from his hibernation spot and forecasts how many more weeks of winter we have left. I don't really think it applies to us West Coasties, but I like the tradition, nonetheless.

Germans were the first to inhabit this area of the U.S., and they found groundhogs to resemble hedgehogs, whom they considered very wise animals (uh, ok?). Apparently, groundhogs innately come out of their holes in spring, and if they see sun, they go back to hibernate for 6 more weeks; if rainy and cloudy, they come out of hibernation in expectation of spring. So back in the late 19th century, the Germans considered the judgment of the groundhog so sound that they followed his lead. To commemorize these beliefs, they made up the following saying, hereby launching the American tradition of Groundhog Day:

"For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May."

Over the course of Punxsutawney Phil's life, he's experienced the following highlights:
  • During Prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn't allowed a drink.

  • In 1981 Phil wore a yellow ribbon in honor of the American hostages in Iran.

  • He traveled to Washington DC in 1986 to meet with President Reagan.

  • Phil appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1995.

  • In the last 20 years, crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney!

I personally just like the movie Groundhog Day - just watched it again recently and it was pretty darn funny.

Anyway, happy forecasting Phil! Let's see spring early this year, shall we?

Love, Mer

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