Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy 125th Groundhog Day!

"Groundhog Day is a lot like a rock concert, but the people are better behaved and there's a groundhog involved" --Tom Chapin, editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper

In case you missed it, this morning Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring! Good news, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Have you ever wondered why Groundhog Day got started in the first place? According to the official Groundhog Day website, the day is a blend of ancient Roman and Christian traditions and was brought to the United States (Pennsylvania if you want to get specific) by German immigrants. In 1887, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club was formed, and the annual ceremony featuring Punxsutawney Phil was started.

Some more fun facts from National Geographic:

-There has only been one Punxsutawney Phil. Yep, that's right, he's "immortal" and is kept alive by an annual sip of the "elixir of life" at the Groundhog Summer Picnic. Kind of sounds like the Sorcerer's Stone from Harry Potter if you ask me.

-Phil can speak to the Groundhog Club in Groundhogese to tell them his weather prediction.

-Phil is actually the wrong sort of animal. In the ancient traditions, a hedgehog was the one to predict the weather.

-The annual predictions are only about 40% accurate. Maybe if we had a hedgehog instead...

-PETA actually wants to replace Phil with a robotic groundhog. According to a letter they sent to the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper, "other popular exhibitions have featured robotic penguins and dolphins that swim and communicate just like real animals do." First off, I want to know where these fake penguins and dolphins are? Secondly, the idea that they could make a passable robot groundhog is even crazier than thinking that Phil is actually 125 years old. And how could they possibly think Phil is being oppressed? He is probably the fattest, most well fed groundhog ever, has thousands of fans, and lives in his own personal zoo.

I am definitely thinking a trip to the Groundhog Day celebration is in order for next year. So what if it is 4.5 hours away? Where else can you stand in the freezing cold to see men in tuxedos and top hats translate a groundhog's weather prediction (which honestly is probably more accurate than an actual weather man) along with tens of thousands of people? Sounds like a blast to me!

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