Thursday, 2 February 2012

Groundhog Day - Meet My Shadow

Okay, this post doesn’t have anything to do with writing tips, my book, or any of my feature posts. But it’s my birthday, so I’ll write what I want to. Yup. You heard me, the same day dear mother gave birth to me is the same day I share with a large rodent who thinks it’s a weather forecaster. The funny thing is, my father was a meteorologist. Stop laughing, it’s true. So for today’s post, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the furry creature that tells us when winter ends, and when spring begins—give or take six weeks.

The origin of Groundhog Day has roots that go deep. It’s considered a holiday to the Wiccan faith—a Sabbat, and something to celebrate. Only, Wiccans call this day Candlemas or Imbolc (pronounced IM-bolk). This is a time to celebrate the renewing fertility of the Earth—“a fire in the belly” time. There is a feeling in the air of the coming spring, but a certain restlessness or cabin fever sets in. It’s no coincidence that many people celebrate Groundhog Day on this date. The idea is that Nature (in the form of Mr. Groundhog) reassures us that spring will indeed come.
German tradition holds that if the sun comes out on Candlemas, the precursor to Groundhog Day, the hedgehog (or badger) will see its shadow and six more weeks of winter will follow. When German settlers came to Pennsylvania they continued this tradition, using groundhogs instead of hedgehogs to predict the weather. Go figure. The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where the tradition continues to be a thriving business for the town.

In the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”, Bill Murray stars as a frustrated weatherman who finds himself living the same day over and over again. He’s stuck in time and can’t break out. So he adapts, or so he thinks. If you haven’t seen this gem, then I urge you to check it out. You may find yourself watching it over and over again.

I’ll leave you with old English song: If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter, and come not again.


  1. Happy, happy birthday! Hope you're having a very special day.

  2. Ah, Sharon, I knew it was your birthday but I've been running since early this morning. Hope it's a happy one, and that winter is over, or else my bulbs are in trouble since they're already up! I totally enjoyed this post, but I never knew that badgers and hedgehogs were considered the same creatures.