Did Puxamahomey see his shadow daddy?

9 02 2011

Puxamahooey?  was my reply.  Puxamahomey the groundhog my daughter Sydney said as if I didn’t have a clue.  My first thought was that this is a skit gone bad on the show In Living Color and Puxamahomey the clown just wapped me upside the head with his sock puppet.

Of course what the curious smaller version of me was asking about was Groundhog Day.  After more banter and my explanation that it was Punxsutawney Phil, not Puxamahomey she continued to ask about this tradition.  She asked about other groundhogs and what they found out.  So I took it upon my self to find what the people wanted to know, well my  people anyway.

Weary winter revelers gather on February 2nd of each year to celebrate Groundhog Day.  The lore says that the groundhog emerges (today is pulled) from his hole conveniently on February 2nd and if he sees his shadow there will be 6 more weeks of winter and he goes back to his nap, if he doesn’t see his shadow he figures it will be an early spring so he stays up, most likely to get a head start on his spring cleaning.  This folklore began as a Pennsylvania German tradition in the 18th century and emulated a European tradition where a sacred badger (really?!) played the part of the modern day Jim Cantore (meteorologist  on www.weather.com). 

The most famous of groundhogs is Punxsutawney Phil (from here on referred to as Punx) from the small town of Punxsutawney, PA.  Punx is unofficially the official groundhog of all of groundhog day.  Groundhog Day is a big deal in this sleepy little PA town.  They dress funny with large top hats and long coats and talk funny (PA German) and english will get you a fine(nickels, dimes and quarters).  The celebration is centered around the home of Punx which is named Gobbler’s Knob (booom chicka wow wa).  The celebration originally known as Candlemas Day stated “for as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May…” did I mention they drink a lot?  The originators also chose the groundhog as they were plentiful and the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend, must have been a shortage of badgers.

This year marked the 125th anniversary edition of Punx’s prediction.  The folks in Punxsutawney say this is the one and only Punx and his longevity is from drinking a secret elixir(more drinking) each year at the Groundhog Picnic.  Each sip is said to add 7 years to Punx’s life.  The other groundhogs are said to be imposters, I don’t have the heart to tell the groundhog that lives in the ditch across the street for fear of crushing his inner groundhog.  This festival in PA is so popular it inspired a 1993 movie starring Bill Murray called Groundhog Day (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_yDWQsrajA) imagine that.

So back to Sydney’s question, did Punx see his shadow?  No, he did not see his shadow…perhaps because the biggest blizzard in recent times blocked out the sun?!  So in the midst of a massive snowstorm our little furry Jim Cantore is predicting an early spring.  Thank goodness, I was going to shovel the drive, now I can let it melt.  As I write this one week later it is 19 degrees outside, I think the little bugger might have been wrong.

For those who forgot about Homey the Clown check it out.




One response

10 02 2011

I Love the Groundhog folklore. Your daughter askes just the right questions to get you thinking. Thank her for me because I get lots of entertainment from her cute little questions and comments.

Nice research on your part. I will share this with Regan.

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