The Importance of Groundhog Day

Anshruta Dhanashekar, Online Editor-in-Chief

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The clock ticks at dawn on Feb. 2; eager citizens of huddle up in the bitter cold of Punxsutawney, Pa. at Gobbler’s Knob, waiting for the rise of their renowned groundhog from its burrow. The question is: will we face more dreaded, gloomy mornings of shoveling snow and wearing sweaters and multiple coats, or are the brightest colored tulips ready to blossom and the sun ready to shine? Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow will determine the fate of the rest of Canada and United States’ winters according to long-held German superstitions. Groundhog Day is a festival acknowledged by the Americans and Canadians alike, brought over to North America by the Germans, and later the Dutch, from the German-speaking areas from across Europe who relied on one creature to determine their success.

Originally called Candlemas, this Catholic festival and tradition was immediately disregarded and eliminated after the Protestant Reformation. Not willing to let go of their intimate regard for the furry animal, the Germans, and later the Dutch, knew that as part of their journey to the Americas with their relatives, they can bring with them a tradition so dear to their hearts and enlighten the natives on another way to test for when the crops will be successful and when nature will shine. Growing up, many children learn about what they think looks like a pet hamster, and may not take the time to understand why the festival is celebrated, let alone other individuals in the population.

Although kindergarten was filled with groundhog coloring sheets and games related to the festival on the website Starfall, I remember that I took a few years to acknowledge the true meaning of the rise of an animal to a whole society in the northeast…so why do some people disregard the importance of spring or any other superstitions? The rise of social media platforms and the need to take BuzzFeed quizzes or follow other fashion trends diminishes the importance and appreciation of Mother Nature’s gifts in the digital age. It is important to promote overlooked festivities. We are able to remember National Pizza Day and National Donut Day for the free food and extra perks.

However, why should we disregard the effort meteorologists take to warn us about how many winter clothes we need, or if we are able to jump in the pool? The next time you want to celebrate something, or try to flip past the weather channel to the latest episode of “Modern Family”, imagine how Phil would feel if we do not wait anxiously for his report.

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