When we were younger, we begged our parents to tell us when we could wear shorts again, when sports would start and when the sun would start staying out past five at night. They would tell us that the groundhog, the most famous one being Punxsutawney Phil, would tell us when winter was over.
The furry little rodent would either see his shadow in the sunlight and would run away, signaling another six weeks of winter or, if by some grand chance the groundhog does not see his shadow because of a cloudy day, then spring will arrive early.
This is all fine and dandy to tell a young child, because who really wants to explain the equinox and solstices to a 5 year old. However, once a child hits fourth or fifth grade, these things are explained to them and they should be able to grasp the concept that an animal does not predict the weather. Half the time, weathermen cannot even predict the weather, and they are not even looking six weeks into the future.
What bothers me further about the subject is the fact that if the groundhog were to see a shadow on a sunny day, it somehow signifies more winter. Yet, a cloudy day means spring comes sooner. How does that make any sense?
If you are a normal human being, sunshine represents warmer weather, flowers, birds and no snow. So while we are wishing for warmer sunny days, we expect this one day in February to be dreary so that a caged animal does not see his shadow.
I understand that the tradition comes from folklore, and has just been passed down. It is a cute little story and gives younger kids something they can comprehend. Why is it that adult human beings have to make such a big deal out of it?
For example, this groundhog has become the inspiration for the Pennsylvania Lottery, with Gus, the second most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania.
The town of Punxsutawney has also commercialized the entire event. On every street corner, there is a large groundhog statue, and there are accompanying postcards with tidbits of information on each to correspond with each statue. Some are painted pretty colors and others are dressed up like characters.
Either way, this little town makes money off the people around the country who travel to see a little creature released from its prison in the library, just to tell them that winter is not yet over.
Furthermore, it seems a bit unnecessary to have a Hollywood movie made based around this single day. Yes, there is a love story behind it, but there is a reason that he hates being stuck in the same day; because it’s Groundhog Day, a useless waste of ink on every calendar printed.