My next post will be the day after Ground Hog Day. I thought I would offer my 2 cents today. How excited are you about GH Day? Neither am I. Doesn’t it strike you a little odd that groundhogs have become meteorology mavens. The truth of the matter is February 2 is the half way mark between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Whether Punxsutawney Phil, Ontario’s Wiarton Willie, Nova Scotia’s Shubanacadie Sam, New York’s Staten Island Chuck, Georgia’s General Beauregard Lee, Toronto’s Dundas Donna or who ever your local rodent is, and whether or not he/she sees his/her shadow , spring is still 6 weeks away. Oh well, it’s all in fun anyway.
This groundhog business got me wondering about it’s origin.
Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful.
The first official Ground Hog Day celebration was Feb. 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, PA. It was the brain child of local newspaper editor, Clymer Freas, who sold a group of business men and hunters known as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club on the idea
Nowadays, the yearly festivities in Punxsutawney are presided over by a band of local dignitaries known as the Inner Circle. Its members wear top hats and conduct the official proceedings in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. They supposedly speak to the groundhog in Groundhogese. (Do you suppose Groundhogese is an accredited language one can study for university credit?)
If that isn’t enough, you might like to know groundhogs are sometimes called whistling pigs. Sleeping is the groundhog’s favorite activity. Groundhogs are vegetarians which gardners and farmers probably know all too well. Groundhogs are the Frank Lloyd Wrights of the rodent world. Their burrows consist of a number of rooms – an eating room, a sleeping room, a nursery and a waste room (bathroom). There you have it. A few groundhoggy facts you may never have wanted to know. Have a great end of January week.
Comments are welcomed.