Groundhog Day might be the most useless day on the calendar. I had no idea why it started or why it continues but it does. I have to say that I believe a chronic migraine patient like myself can do a better job of predicting the weather than a groundhog. I can more accurately predict rain than any weatherman I have ever seen that’s for sure.
Maybe if you could find a groundhog with chronic migraine disease that would be the ultimate weather-predicting animal. However I don’t know if they exist. I also wonder why no other animal has this ability, if it this is even a true ability.
Let’s find out more.
This year marks the one hundred and thirty-first year of this tradition, which takes place annually in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, hence the groundhog’s name Punxsutawney Phil, perhaps the worst name I have ever heard. If you go for the big day you can get in for free but it is like visiting New York City on New Year’s Eve. You will have to go super early to get in line and wait. But it is just as popular attraction any other time of year. Naturally you can purchase any variety of Punxsutawney Phil souvenirs there as well.
The day begins for this poor creature when he is awakened by the large cheering crowd of lunatics surrounding the locked lair where he lives. The fact that he is essentially a captive makes this scene sound all the more bizarre. After this traumatic beginning he apparently saw his shadow “accurately” predicting another six weeks of winter for us all.
According to the officially Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Club website, and yes there is such a thing, these are apparently the “true” facts to answer some of my burning questions:
- A groundhog's life span is normally 6 to 8 years. Phil receives a drink of a magical punch every summer during the Annual Groundhog Picnic, which gives him 7 more years of life.
- Yes, Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just imposters.
- There has been only one Punxsutawney Phil. Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking "groundhog punch" (a secret recipe).
- The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states "For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May...". The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.
- Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800's. The first official trek to Gobbler's Knob made on February 2nd, 1887.
- So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br'er Groundhog.
They are apparently other groundhogs trying to get in on this gig, for existence Staten Island Chuck here near N.Y.C. He apparently has an eighty percent accuracy rating and believes we will have an early spring this year.
The only thing more ridiculous to me than this tradition was the 1993 made about it. If you haven’t seen it don’t waste your time. It stars Bill Murray who is a news reporter covering this big event and continues to relive this day over and over again until he learns some life lessons.
As if that movie wasn’t bad enough this tale is moving to Broadway! I swear I will not be spending any time in the theater in the next few years. Every show I read about has a worse plot than the one before it and they are usually ideas that have already been created in another genre, typically films. Prior to this novel idea I read about “A Devil Wears Prada” musical to be written by Elton John. But I believe a singing groundhog takes the cake. Ironically though it begins in six weeks. Too bad Phil didn’t announce that from the stump as well.
For me the best news I have ever heard on Groundhogs Day happened last year when my very dear friend gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy making me an aunt once more.
Happy birthday dumpling!
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