Did The Groundhog See His Shadow?
Each year on February 2nd many Americans and Canadians celebrate one of the most odd, yet charming holidays that I know of: Groundhog Day. Children and adults across the nation will be asking (and quite seriously for that matter) Did the groundhog see his shadow?
For some reason I remember this holiday quite well as a child. I specifically recall the holiday coming to my attention as I attended grade school, many years ago. What is it, about a groundhog (aka woodchuck) that can forecast the weather that appeals to a child and would cause adults to celebrate a holiday, such as that?
All that I can think of is that as a child I must have been ready for winter to end and springtime to begin and somehow an overgrown prairie dog held my fate in his tiny paw. The inclement winter weather keeping us from playing outside, contrasted by an enchanted magical marmot meteorologist, who could bring us an early spring or six more weeks of winter boredom, must have been quite intriguing to a child.
Some towns in America have some very famous groundhogs. Punxsutawney Phil from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is one of them. Made famous by one of my all time favorite movies: Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. Although I have never been there when Punxsutawney Phil makes his prediction, I have heard that thousands of people attend the celebration. I usually watch some of the festivities on the morning, national news shows on Groundhog day, being from the Midwest and not having my own famous groundhog.
Other famous groundhogs are Buckeye Chuck of Ohio and Staten Island Chuck from New York. Down south in Georgia they have a prestigious sounding groundhog named General Beauregard Lee and up north in Canada they have a famous groundhog called Wiarton Willie.
The story goes, that if a groundhog emerges from his winter hibernation and comes up out of his burrow and sees his shadow, it will frighten him back down his hole and we will have a longer winter. That's the story that I remember as a child, but I am sure there are other versions from town to town. All I know is that if he did see his shadow it meant being unable to play outside; it meant waiting longer for spring.
So when someone asks: Did the groundhog see his shadow today? The child in me always hopes that he didn't.