Happy Groundhog Day!
Today is Groundhog Day, an old Pennsylvania Dutch tradition that in the late 19th century morphed into a modern holiday with top-hat-wielding custodians of an official groundhog.
Around 7 am EST Punxsatawney Phil will leave his librarian home in Gobblers Knob and see his shadow, predicting that winter will last until it is over. (In theory, if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter: but winter ends March 21, which is essentially six weeks later…)
This tradition is so patently absurd that I find it fantastic. It is also a rather surreal, parochial tie to where I grew up.
For the historians, supposedly the tradition goes back to medieval SW German traditions of prognosticating badgers. (I think I’d rather stay away from the badgers). And, even more fun, according to the the official website of the keepers of Punxsatawney Phil, there’s a legend that during Prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn’t allowed a drink.
In line with the divine absurdity of Groundhog’s Day, back during my PhD I wrote a parody of the Apostle’s Creed for use at Groundhog’s Day’s Parties (which is a tradition I feel needs to be started). Here it is, and, happy Groundhog’s Day.
We Believe in One Groundhog,
The Predictor and Ender of Winter,
And in Cobbler’s Knob, his only home, our home,
who is protected by the Groundhog Club, housed in a library,
Hibernated under Punxsatawney, dark, covered and asleep;
On 2 Feb he awakes from hibenation,
He ascends into the cameras, and predicts the equinox.
From thence he shall return to read Watership Down.
We believe in the Punxsatawney Oracle, the groundhog tuxedo,
Bill Murray, and the value of absurdity. Amen.