Day 320 | Tuesday, 2 February 2021
A Bit of Trivia on this day for your reflection.
If you’re sick of winter, hope may come soon via the absence of a small furry creature’s shadow. Or those same hopes may be dashed by a prediction of an extended cold season. Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be.
According to an old English rhyme:
“If Candlemas Day is clear and bright,
Winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again.”
The idea stems from an ancient European Christian celebration known as Candlemas Day. The holiday initially was an observance of the midpoint between the winter and spring equinoxes. Religious leaders would bless candles used during the winter and pass them out to the townspeople each year on February 2. The superstition at the time was that if the weather was sunny and clear on the day the candles were distributed, the rest of winter would be long and rough. On the other hand, if the weather was cloudy and gray when people received their candles, spring was on the way. In Germany, people would apparently put the theory to the test by checking if a hedgehog or a badger saw its shadow when waked. And when German immigrants came to America, they brought their tradition with them - though thankfully for the people doing the predicting, they decided to go with groundhogs instead. I’d hate to get on the bad side of a grumpy badger.
What is the story behind Groundhog Day?
It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks; but if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.
When did Groundhog Day originate? By 1886, the newspaper The Punxsutawney Spirit had given the day its Groundhog Day title, and a year later the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club was created. The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters—known collectively as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club—on the idea.
Who does the predicting? According to the members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Punxsutawney Phil does the predictions every year. And he has done so, according to them, for decades - Groundhog Day lore is that Phil isn’t just any groundhog, obviously, but a magical one, gifted with longevity as well as meteorological wisdom. But since even magical groundhogs apparently can’t speak English, it falls to the members of the Groundhog Club to interpret Phil’s predictions. According to them, Phil is always right; it’s their interpretations where issues of accuracy come into play. Is Groundhog Day accurate? Data from the Stormfax Almanac's data shows that Phil's six-week prognostications have been correct about 39 percent of the time. ... That's a 50 percent accuracy rate. So, you'll be better off flipping a coin.
(Sources – Newsweek, other internet sources)