Groundhog Day

February 2, 2009

Today is Groundhog Day in Canada and the U.S. Basically, we all watch a groundhog come out of his little house. If he sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it means an early spring. It’s kind of bullshit.

Like all folkore-based North American traditions, Groundhog Day emerged from early proto-Celt pagan tradition, which I think I read once involved spying on gophers to determine whether it would rain on the day they planned to sacrifice a virgin to some crazy Irish deity. I might be remembering that wrong.

I never understood the Groundhog Day concept as a kid, because I lived in rural northern Ontario, where February 2 is about the one-third marker each winter. People on TV would moan about there being six more weeks of winter because Wiarton Willie, Ontario’s official weather-prognosticating groundhog, saw his shadow. It didn’t matter to us. Six weeks was a given for us back then. Spring doesn’t come to the North until May, really.

Anyway, there are official groundhogs all over the continent, and each February 2, they are presented to the public in grand ceremonies, all lighthearted but still kind of stupid. If you’ve seen the movie Groundhog Day, you get my drift. Wikipedia claims there’s a Canadian study that determined groundhogs have a 37 per cent accuracy rate. That’s actually better than my local TV weather guy, who is named Jay and is kind of a weiner.

The groundhog determined we’re due for six more weeks of winter, which takes us into mid-March. That’s no biggie. I look forward to the snow melting and that certain smell of spring: thawing dog shit.


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