HolidayHop: Groundhog Day

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Ever since the monster slush attack last week landed Diana Clarke on her ass, she has been done with winter. Not even her trendy Bean Boots and City Bakery’s What Would Faulkner Drink? hot chocolate could save her. Today decides her fate: thousands of years of ritual shall determine whether she may or may not face six more weeks of tribulations.

Every year on February 2nd a groundhog (aka woodchuck, aka land-beaver) named Punxsutawney Phil crawls out into the light. Phil lives in a burrow on Gobbler’s Knob, and suffers from serious seasonal affective disorder and with no heliostat to speak of. Legend has it that if the little guy sees his shadow he gets scared, heads back inside to hibernate, and we have six more weeks of winter, but I’m pretty sure a horde  of looming humans toting boom mikes and giant flashbulbs lurking outside me door would be enough to send me back to bed too. Anyway, even if Phil sees no shadow, winter still ends on March 21, or whenever global warming decides to melt the polar ice caps.

Not that this should deter you from tuning in to the event’s livestream or from following the developing situation on Twitter or whatever. And Holy Core Curriculum! Groundhog Day is descended from the Christian Candlemas (“For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May”), or possibly the pagan Gaelic Imbolc, or maybe it’s just an accident of the gap between the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Anyway. But more recently it’s become the domain of the Pennsylvania German, whose Grundsoe Lodges (Ground Lodges) hold fersommlinge, which are basically potlucks where everyone speaks Pennsylvania German, and you’re charged a fee if you slip up.

Speaking of slipping up, it would be a major faux pas if you were to consult any groundhog other than the original Phil of Punxsutawney, PA. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s website claims that “Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just impostors.” They keep their hog in tip-top predicting shape by getting him to swill down some “elixir of life” at the Groundhog Picnic every summer, giving him another seven years to live. Don’t anybody tell Lord Voldemort.

However, since Phil has predicted a long winter the last fifteen years out of twenty, chances are you won’t even notice when the Dementors show up. By the time they arrive to suck out your soul, you’ll most likely be dead of frostbite.

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  5. ...  

    Is anyone else eagerly awaiting the day when Harry Potter references are no longer cool to make? The ones in this article were particularly awful. They suck worse than a bad case of dragon pox

  6. Anonymous  

    I think that the people are called Pennsylvania Dutch, but the language is Pennsylvania German...

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