I was about to launch my annual diatribe against Groundhog Day, and thought I would actually look up a bit of the history behind this dubious so-called holiday. It turns out that modern day North American Groundhog Day has roots in European weather lore, the pagan festival of Imbolc, and the medieval Catholic holiday of Candlemas, which is related to the end of the Epiphany and (in the Lutheran church in which I was brought up) the Presentation of Jesus. One thing I love is when I find out that something ridiculous like Groundhog Day, setting for one of the lamest movies ever, is actually related to something more global. It’s like realizing that in the dead of winter, cultures and religions all over the world recognize the need for a light-filled holiday, and bam! There you have Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Winter Solstice, Midwinter Pagan Festivals. It makes me feel like a part of a global community, cue the We Are The World music. It almost softens my feelings for Groundhog Day.
But really, Groundhog Day. I hate it. Despite the above paragraph, it is surely the stupidest day on the calendar, if only because I live in a climate in which six weeks more of winter is an early spring. Hell, if you could guarantee that in ten weeks there would be no more snow and minus ten degree frosts, I would be ecstatic. My husband actually dug up a bed of my tulip bulbs, evidently tired of my face falling off with sadness year after year as I would eagerly watch my tulips emerge, then bud, then get covered with a foot of snow, freeze, and break off at the stems before flowering. Of course, he grew up in a significantly warmer climate that me, a place where tulips actually grow and flower unhindered by snow or frost.
As an aside, a certain family member of his who still lives in this lovely climate phoned me a few weeks ago, complaining about the glorious spring weather that they were experiencing. “I hate this,” she said, “Because you know, I just love winter.” I looked out at the minus 20 degree, snow covered backyard, then broke my own rule about speaking nicely and snapped nastily, “Then I guess you should move to Calgary!” What I was trying to accomplish with that comment, I do not know. For one thing, perhaps I too would enjoy winter if a frigid winter day meant the temperature hovering around the freezing mark and the season itself lasted less than three months. For another thing, what if she took that comment at face value? Then where would I be?
Anyway, I heard this morning that our resident groundhog, Balzac Billy, did not see his shadow, predicting an early spring, whatever that means. Here’s a picture of Balzac Billy:
Yes, Balzac Billy is a guy dressed up in a groundhog costume. Suck on that, PETA. You want to swap out a large rodent for a robot? Well, we are WAY ahead of you up here. Yes, we may have the rodeo, and the grizzly hunt, and my neighbour kept a deer carcass in his backyard all last winter, but DAMN. We have our mascot-like, six foot tall, red-t-shirt-wearing Balzac Billy.