By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian
Groundhog’s Day has come and gone, and for the life of me I can’t understand the appeal. This seems very anti-children’s librarian of me, I know, and I know I’m in the minority on this one, as hotels in Punxsutawney cost more than hotels for the Super Bowl this year. I am a big believer in superstition and magical things, but if a meteorologist can’t predict snow in two days, how can an animal’s shadow? Also, the groundhog is surrounded by lights during this escapade. Isn’t it guaranteed that not only is his shadow going to be there, but you would think the large draw of crowds would make any animal skittish?
My groundhog grinchiness aside, I decided to look further into this nationally acknowledged festivity to maybe unshroud the skepticism and maybe get some enjoyment out of this weird day. The first American Groundhog’s day was celebrated in 1887, but this holiday was recognized long before that in Germany and nearby territory. This holiday is based off an old religious tradition of Candlemas held between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. “If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.” Add that to German farmers’ practice of relying on badger’s hibernation habits to predict when they should begin the year’s farming work, and poof — there’s your weird holiday. When Germans settled on this continent, they found a shortage of badgers and switched to another mammal. Other sources say the original animal was a hedgehog, and switched to the next best available critter. Punxsutawney Phil was used to predict the seasons, settlers relied on Br’er Groundhog, which sounds right out of a Beatrix Potter book. Phil was named after King Phillip, and has been used for over a hundred years.
Whoah. Phil’s been around for over 100 years? The average stats of a groundhog are 12-15 pounds and lives 6-8 years. Every summer at the Annual Groundhog Picnic, the 20 pound Phil is given a magical elixir that not only increases his girth, but also extends his life another seven years.
Fun fact: We’re not the only weirdos to celebrate a rodent meteorologist. Canada also celebrates Groundhog’s Day.
Now I’m going to read “Ten Grouchy Groundhogs” because that’s what I feel like right now — a grouchy groundhog.Tags: Christina Keasler, Groundhog Day, kids