random rodent day

What’s the deal with Groundhog’s day? I mean seriously, who came up with this idea that a groundhog emerges from his home (actually he’s evicted like he owes rent) and determines if winter will be longer or shorter this year based on if he sees his shadow or not?

I haven’t done any research on this holiday, so I’m writing my opinions “blind”, if you will. And I hope that you will, and will humor my questioning. I’m wondering if anyone has really stopped to think about why we do this. Must we abuse animals for our weather musings?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really up in arms that we consider this a holiday. At least banks aren’t closed, kids still attend school weather permitting, and I’ll still get my Netflix rentals (as long as February 2nd isn’t on the weekend, that is). So it’s another harmless holiday like Arbor Day or the beloved/dreaded St. Valentine’s Day.

But my questioning comes from the logic. Why a groundhog? Are they typically first to rise up from hibernation? What about badgers? Do squirrels pop out of trees to see if the leaves are budding? Bunny rabbits? Gerbils? Do any of those live in the wild anymore? And can they even comprehend a shadow? Let alone time?

How silly does that make humans look? We have to see if the groundhog sees it’s shadow. Clearly we could determine this on our own by looking out the window. But no, let’s bother the badgers and gophers and see what they see… other than goofy looking people that take great joy in tormenting a good season’s rest.

Let’s discuss that time table briefly.

When I was a wee child and heard this rumor about groundhogs predicting the turn of the season, I was told there would either be six more weeks of winter or spring was “right around the corner” (or as I later learned, six weeks). At the tender age of youngness, I tended to forget all about P. Phil’s predictions by the time spring rolled around. I also think I didn’t care much about it for the mere fact that as a child, I enjoyed snow, I lived in New England (where the weather is as fickle as a feline), and my concept of time was barely as advanced as the rodents admiring their own shadows.

So you could have told me that if the chipmunk saw his shadow, we won’t have spring until next fall. I’d probably dramatically scream “Oh no!” and put on a faux rant before returning to my Legos. Spring would arrive when the Good Lord deemed it’d be so, and I wouldn’t remember to bring up the fact that the forest critter was wrong.

"You were wrong."

Perhaps this is just another oddity to chalk up to humans being weird. Who else brings dead trees in the house for a month? And who made up the rule about no white after labor day? How long does that ban on white clothing last anyway? That’s when I’m dying to throw on my snow bunny costume.

Of course, I could just do the research and see the origins in Possum Day. But where’s the fun in speculating why it is what it is? Let these extreme morning people go bother some poor woodland creature about the time of day.

If it were me, I’d call up my woodchuck and beaver buddies to fashion me a fence and some strike signs so I can stay home and stay in bed. If I never come out, there’s no shadow to be seen, right? Spring is right around the corner. Now everybody’s happy.

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2 comments on “random rodent day
  1. melinda says:

    I saw an article about this the other day… As I recall, the whole groundhog-winter thing came from an ancient German superstition… Think medieval/dark ages germany… The superstition was eerily similar to today’s celebration- they thought that if the groundhog saw his shadow, there’d be 6 more weeks of winter; if not, there’d be an early spring.

    • t. sterling says:

      The funny thing is that I still haven’t done any research since writing that. But thanks for the lead, I will eventually follow up on it sooner or later.

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February 2012
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