28 January 2012

Groundhog Day

Do you recall the 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell called Groundhog Day?  For the benefit of those who aren’t fans of Ghostbusters star Bill Murray; aren’t film buff or are not that old, I’ll briefly go through the move plot: “A self-centered weather forecaster (played by Bill Murray) ends up reliving Groundhog day every morning until he finally realizes that in order for this routine to stop he must change from within. What is most striking about this movie is the alarm clock at the B&B Murray resides in; it wakes him up the same rituals and activities as the day before and Murray soon realizes, the day after.” IMDB rate this move at 8.1/10 and places is at position 168 of the top 250 movies of all times. 

 Photograph by Jason Cohn, Reuters

Has SASM started reviewing movies? No yet. We want to discuss the holiday celebrated on February 2nd. Tradition has it that when a groundhog leaves its burrow on this day it will look for its shadow. If it can’t see its shadow (because it is cloudy) than the groundhog will leave its burrow signifying that winter-like weather will soon end. On the other hand if the groundhog sees its shadow (meaning that the sun is out), the critter will head back into its burrow and winter weather will continue for another six weeks.

Punxsutawney, a borough in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, 135 km northeast of Pittsburgh holds the largest Groundhog Day celebration. It is followed by thousands of locals, tourists and news crews who gather every year to observe whether winter has come to an end or still has a few more weeks.
German immigrants brought the tradition with them. As they settled in hills of Pennsylvania, they began using the Groundhog to predict the arrival of spring. The tradition is based upon Candlemas, the day that is the midpoint between winter and spring. A famous Candlemas poems goes:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

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