Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Boo! It’s Groundhog Day

I have researched pretty much every holiday we have here in the US.  I have found some rather sad and aggravating facts that has changed my whole out look on the holidays all together.  But I still celebrate them like I always have, with little twists to relive the good old days, the original ways.  Except Groundhogs Day, that is one holiday I have never even looked up.  What the crap is wrong with me?  Do I have a temperature cause this is so unlike me.  I didn’t realize that I didn’t know a thing about today until this morning when I saw an article about it on Yahoo.  I read the article, slapped myself on the forehead and grounded myself for such laziness. 

So grab your pencils, your paper for notes, get comfy and get ready to learn about this strange holiday.

The history of Groundhog’s Day has many origins, as do many holidays we celebrate.  People have celebrated in one form or another, with different dates, the coming of spring, using weather, animals and even plants as signs of better or worse weather.  The traditions and celebrations have common themes or symbols, with pretty much the same outlook of the holiday.  Purification whether from winter and/or evil spirits (most ancient cultures viewed winter to be dark and evil, since vegetation was killed and animals slept), or for cleanliness, and celebrating the rebirth of the land, including animals and people.

Candlemass, Feast of the Purification of the Virgin or the Meeting of the Lord is for Christians.  There’s Seven Sleepers Day in Germany (or more accurately Siebenschlafertag).  In the United Kingdom there is St. Swithun’s day.  In Alaska, Marmot day.  Even though some are celebrated in February and some in June or July, they are very similar holidays.  Whatever you call it, its a celebrations of renewal in some form or another.

The earliest known American reference to Groundhog’s day comes from the diary of James Morris, a storekeeper, of Berks County Pennsylvania.  He writes “Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate”.  For us here in America, this holiday began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The largest celebration in the United States is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds reach as high as 40,000. 

After spending most of the day researching this often ignored holiday, I find myself as usual, inspired by ancient people.  They loved the land, and they used it to help them in every day life.  We are so about give me now, no waiting, let someone else do it for me, that our whole outlook on the Earth is pretty pathetic.  These people observed things that gave us the knowledge that we have today, but not many care anymore.  Today I’m lighting my candles, as a way to purify the house and us, of all the darkness that the winter has brought.  I will tend to my one remaining live house plant, as a way of celebrating the life returning to the earth.

Now I can’t just walk away from this post all serious, because that wouldn’t be me.  So not how I do things.  I find this holiday interesting and just a touch icky.  A groundhog is a rodent people!  We have a holiday around a rodent!  Is it just me or is that just wrong?  We kill rodents, we put out bait and mini guillotines for these creatures and yet we have a holiday where we watch one to see if it sees its shadow.  I’m all about tradition, but come on why couldn’t we have stuck with the bear?  So much prettier and NOT A FREAKING RODENT.

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