Groundhog Day

raven6 on Jan 9, 2018
Every February 2nd America expectantly awaits for the Groundhog to emerge from his burrow and predict the end of winter and the coming of spring. This holiday is most festively celebrated in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, which is home to the original Groundhog, who is the most widely respected weather"man" in the US. Did you ever wonder how he could pull off such a feat?  
 
Most people know that when the groundhog comes out of his burrow, if he sees his shadow we will have 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, then we only have 2 more weeks of winter. This myth started out in Europe and used to revolve around badgers, but when immigrants came to the US, there were not as many badgers in Pennsylvania, so Groundhogs became the new prophetic animal foretelling the arrival of spring. 
 
Ironically, groundhogs actually hibernate all winter long. So if they live in a place like the northeast, they definitely do not pop their heads out of the ground until the snow is all melted. They are foragers, devouring weeds and other ground foliage so if it's covered by snow, they cannot eat! Although they also go by the nickname "woodchuck" they do not in fact eat wood (nor do they throw things). The nickname came from the Algonquian (specific American Indian language) word for marmot-"Wuchak". 
 
Although groundhogs aren't actually able to predict the end of winter, who doesn't want to celebrate the coming of spring? If you go out to a Groundhog day parade and it is still cold, make sure you have a thermos with something to warm you up (or maybe a flask would be better...) and if you live in a place where it's already warm, make sure you have a water bottle to keep you hydrated. Maybe your family has the tradition of going to the parade and you want to be the loudest family there. Maybe you don't live in a town that has a big parade or festival, suggested ways to celebrate are to watch the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day" or to eat groundhog stew. I've never come across groundhog meat in the grocery store, but I'm sure if you live in the right place you can find it. Regardless of the way groundhog day has evolved, it is really about celebrating the coming of spring. You can always take a walk or light a candle to celebrate the arrival of longer days and new growth. 

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