Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day

Photograph by: AP Photo/Gene J. Puska
Credit: AP
I have to be honest, this is one of the strangest "holidays" that I know of.  Who in the world thought it would be a good idea every February 2nd to pull a fat groundhog from its burrow lift it up and declare there will be six more weeks of winter or not? 

“Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.” 

These were the words penned in 1841 in Berks County, Pennsylvania by local storekeeper James Morris, who holds the title of being the first American to make reference to the tradition of Groundhog’s Day.  Since the holiday is soon to be “popping up” upon us, the History Examiner brings you some of the history and tradition behind his famed Commonwealth holiday.

No historian is sure when Groundhog’s Day first got its origin, but many point to the fact that the holiday bears some similarities to the medieval Catholic holiday of Candlemas. In the Roman Catholic Church, Candlemas (which is also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple) falls on the second day of February and celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus Christ when his parents presented him to the Temple in Jerusalem. Groundhog’s Day also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 1st and also involves weather predictions for the second half of the year.  (Courtesy of History Examiner)

So everyone, whether it be another six weeks of winter or an early spring.  Happy Groundhog Day!

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