Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's Groundhog Day!

There's a GREAT article about Groundhog Day on MSN Encarta; you all should read it. It's probably the best informative article I've read in a month -- seriously. So I'm going to paste a few interesting facts here:

Groundhog Day started in Europe, but it wasn't called Groundhog Day then. The holiday was Candlemas, a Christian holiday. The legend about the animal and its shadow was part of Candlemas, but the animal in question was the hedgehog. The Pilgrims brought the tradition to America but couldn't find a hedgehog here, so they seized upon the next best thing.

Groundhogs hibernate, but they periodically come out of their burrows to check on the weather. If the temperature is too cold, they hibernate for about two more weeks, at which time they will check the weather again. When the weather feels warm enough, they will stop hibernating.

Groundhogs rarely come out of hibernation on February 2. If it's cold, they might not come out until March. I know, I know. We've seen them popping out of the ground on TV, but appearances can be deceiving. News crews (shockingly!) have been known to wake up a groundhog and drag it out for its photo opportunity.

Groundhogs supposedly come out of hibernation if it's cloudy and they don't see a shadow -- an apparent sign of spring. If the sun is shining and they see their shadows, we're supposed to expect six more weeks of winter. So:

Another interesting fact: According to meteorologists, on a given day the temperature tends to be colder if it's sunny and warmer if it's cloudy.

Put all these facts together and what have you got? Punxsutawney Phil. On a tighter schedule.

Oh, except for one thing. A warm day in early February has nothing to do with whether winter is over. A Canadian researcher did a careful study and found that the groundhog gets it right about 37 percent of the time.

And that's a short summary of this little holiday. You really should read the article. It's got a great explanation of hibernation, too. Lots of scientific stuff -- fun!

So people, have a good Groundhog Day. And don't forget to celebrate by watching Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day." It's quite possibly the best comedy I've ever seen -- that, and "So I Married An Axe Murderer."

Thing I'm thankful for: I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- our amazing internet resources.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel cheated. We could have had Hedgehog Day every year?

Hard to say which would fly higher if we had the choice. Hedgehogs are cuter (to my view), but a little spiny for the cuddly, petting zoo concept of [Insert prognosticating rodent here] Day we've developed.

I guess it's best to just be happy that we've got Groundhog day, and keep the reverence and admiration for hedgehogs to myself.

In other news, one of my film profs always liked to point out to us that Groundhog Day is a transcendental film. It's pretty plainly transcendental, it's just not stuffy and hard to watch, so people sometimes miss it.

(And it was made by someone from my home town, but I don't think Harold Ramis moved to the HP until the mid to late 90s, at which point I was long gone.)

2:01 PM  
Blogger Leezy Lindsey said...

Blake & I were invited to a Groundhog Day party last week and we ate pizza & watched the movie Groundhog Day. What a great movie.

12:51 AM  

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