News Notes

It’s Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day, February 2, is when we ask if we are in for six more weeks of winter . . . and only a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil knows for sure, according to news sources.
Each year on Groundhog Day, people flock to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to find out the forecast of the biggest celebrity in the area – a rodent.
The tradition began with the Pennsylvania Dutch, German-speaking settlers, who came to Pennsylvania in the 1700s and brought their seasonal superstitions with them.
They developed their own take on the legend Candlemas from the 18th and 19th centruries, that involved clergy blessing and distributing candles needed for winter.
They adopted the native Groundhog as their annual weather announcer. The Pennsylvania Dutch transformed the idea by selecting an animal to predict their needs for winter.
The first-ever Groundhog Day was created by a local newspaper editor, Clymer Freas, around 1886, who convinced a Groundhog hunter and local businessman, and all members of his Punxsutawney Groundhog club, on the idea of Groundhog Day.
They all made their way to Gobbler’s Knob, where the Groundhog would make the final decision on the weather.
Today, a group called the Inner Circle, who wear top hats, conduct the official ceremony on February 2 in a Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, where tens of thousands of people attend the day’s events every year.
Studies have proven no strong evidence between a Groundhog spotting its own shadow and the subsequent arrival of spring. According to German folklore, the badger known as Dachs is their forecasting animal. A separate version of traditions states that clear weather on the holy Christian day of Candlemas would often prohibit winter being prolonged.
Supposedly, there is only one Phil and any other groundhogs who try to do what he does, are imposters. He is said to speak to the club president on the day, in front of the crowds – in Groundhogese – which is understood and then translated.
So on this Groundhog Day, Two-Two-Twenty Three, if Phil sees his shadow, the winter chill will continue. Oddly, if the weather is cloudy and he doesn’t see his shadow, we can expect warmer temperatures and an early spring. Groundhog Day is a tradition to be cherished.
And yes, Groundhog Day is also a movie starring Bill Murray.
Happy Groundhog Day, everyone!

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