Is Groundhog Day our oddest holiday?

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While Feb. 2 was Marshall’s Holiday of Hawaiian Night, the rest of the states and Canada were
watching a ground hog come out of the ground. I’m not sure why this is a holiday, but it might arguably be the weirdest thing that we do around here. Groundhog Day comes from a Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a ground-hog emerges from his burrow on this day and sees its shadow because of the clear weather, it will go back in its den and winter will go on for another six weeks. If it does not see its shadow because of the cloudiness, spring will arrive early.

The reason that it’s a groundhog that does this, of all animals, is because the Pennsylvania Dutch were immigrants of German speaking areas of Europe.

The Germans have a similar tradition, but call it Badger Day, as they believe badgers to be the weather predicting animal. From my understanding, the animals got switched because ‘badger’ and ‘groundhog’ are pronounced almost the same in German and Pennsylvania Dutch. While there is no scientific correlation between a groundhog seeing its shadow and the weather, I can under-stand why people who are Pennsylvania Dutch continue with this tradition. It’s similar to American’s celebrating Christopher Columbus Day even though it doesn’t make sense.

There’re two very different reasons for why they don’t make sense – one racist and one not – but I just wanted to point out that I can understand the tradition aspect. However, since most of us are not Pennsylvania Dutch, I don’t get why we continue to watch this groundhog and listen to what
it says. Since the tradition started, there have been 103 forecasts of winter and only 17 for spring.

Plus, there is no definition for ‘early spring.’ I mean if you define it as any day before the Solstice/
Equinox, we would have early winter just about every year (and long winter, second winter, fake winter, etc.). Add in the fact that assessments of Phil’s (the groundhog they use) accuracy show results that are lower than what random chance could even give, and you’ve got little to no reason on why we continue to follow this groundhog around and base our weather predictions off of
it. If we could just follow it around to see it and that’s it, that would be different.

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