What is the point of Groundhog day? Why celebrate? So we can keep our knowingly false hopes that winter will end soon? I hope this pointless day can go soon.
Why do people “believe” in the Easter Bunny?
I just think it’s a big stupid joke. How many people get the day off on Groundhog Day?
Groundhog Day predictions are wrong much more than 50% of the time. Makes me wonder why they don’t reverse it.
Zam, you are asking a question that is akin to asking, “Why do we celebrate a day when an imaginary rabbit brings candy eggs to children?” or “…when an imaginary fat man rides in a sleigh pulled by flying caribou to bring presents?” In fact, the three holidays share a common religiou-to- secular background.
And the history of this one is so convoluted it makes Marbury vs. Madison simple by comparison.
Okay, set the day of Jesus’s birth at the 25th of December. The early church did, anyway.
Now, on his eighth day of life, he is circumcized and formally given his name, in accord with Jewish tradition. That works out to Jan. 1 – and some churches do celebrate that day as a feast, “Holy Name.”
Under Jewish law, women recovered from childbirth and were taboo – Zev, Dex, or somebody can give the formal term – ritually “impure,” anyway, during the period of forty days for recovery. At that point, the woman went to the Temple for “purification” and, if the child were a firstborn son, the couple sacrificed at the altar for the child, dedicating him to the Lord.
That day was February 2 – in the Middle Ages, an important wintertime feast of both Jesus and Mary. And its commemoration involved ceremonial lighting of candles – and as a result it became known as Candlemas.
However, the day is also one of the “cross-quarter days” – the four days in the middle of the calendar seasons, halfway between a solstice and an equinox (or the other way around). People looked for portents at that point (whether superstitiously or just trying to read the indications of the weather) to determine what the last half of winter would be like. And often it came at a time when animals which undergo pseudo-hibernation (estivation?) would rouse and feed. Put all that together and set it on a feast day, and you have the genesis of Punxsatawney Phil and his colleagues.
Because it’s fun, stupid and pointless?
Because people sick of killing cold, ice, fuel bills, gray slush and gray skies get a laugh out of it?
Because few other holidays feature a distinctly non-cute and pissed off rodent?
Because it’s worth it just to watch carefully buffed, gelled and high-gloss media types shivering their asses off covering said rodent as a news event? (I consider it one of those all-too-rare moments of Unintentional Truth.)
Obviously I get a hoot out of it, maybe for all the wrong reasons. It’s just a fun, sideways little bit of folklore.
Who “celebrates” Ground-Hog Day in the first place? Seriously, how many Ground Hog Day parties have you been to? What was the cute little poem of the last Ground Hog Day card you received? What did you serve for Ground Hog Day dinner last year?
If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would have forgotten all about it, at least until Punxatony Phil(sp?) had his 5 minutes with Katie and Matt. Or until I rented the movie, which, for my money is validation enough.
By the way, happy Arbor Day (whenever that is).
Whoa! Simulpost whiplash.
Just read Polycarp’s usual careful and informed answer, then re-read mine.
Ooookay, gonna slink back off into my burrow for another 6 weeks or so. Better make it 10, just to be on the safe side.
In all seriousness, damn, I love this place! I couldn’t begin to even think of all these questions, much less the various answers.
Humbled, amused and informed–as usual,
Well, when I tried to explain Groundhog Day to Male Porpentine (who is British), he spent about twenty minutes rolling around on the floor and then accused me of making the whole thing up.
So there you are. We celebrate it because it amuses furriners.
The real problem with Groundhog Day is its complete unmarketability. As a retail grocer, I’d love to find something to sell between Superbowl chips and drink and Valentine’s Day candy and flora.
Can’t eat the things. Chocolate groundhogs probably won’t work, and man is it ever hard for chocolate NOT to work.
No gifts whatsoever. I say if you can’t exploit it, it is not a real holiday. Damn there’s no money to be made from shadows either! Grr!
Honestly, I think the whole thing was set up just to get on Scylla’s nerves.
Hey, some of us are going to enjoy taking off work and driving the 30 minutes to Punxsutawney early Friday morning to watch a bunch of people drinking and making fools of themselves. It’s a campy little bit of local flavor that seems to have leaked out to the rest of the country. Enjoy the idea it the way you might enjoy watching a bad movie.
KJ: What exactly is it you would like to see reversed? If there is actually anyone out there who thinks that watching a rodent can help predict the weather, I have this nice little psychic hotline I’d like you to tryout, just $.90 the first minute . . .
You mean Scylla with the swollen ::koff:: gonads, pink eye, infant daughter pooping on the family cat, rabid Amish neighbors, rapt familial audience during projectile flu moments, Renaissance man wannabe and thwarted Chairman Kaga?
Nah, a mere rodent-based holiday wouldn’t even register on whatever nerves he has left.
Running like hell,
Why slink? I think that’s a great answer.
That’s pretty much why we STILL celebrate it.
Althought the stuff about purification and cross-quarter day is interesting. Thanks, Poly. (And if it did start in the Middle Ages in Europe, Male Porpentine should get up off the floor and apologize.)
Minor nitpick here Polycarp.
A woman who gave birth was tamei, just the same as if she had her period. The period of being tamei was only seven days for a boy and 14 for a girl. Afterwards, there was an extended period of time (33 days for a boy, 66 for a girl) before she could go to the Temple. However, it should be noted she had to be tahor (ritually clean, for lack of a better term) before going to the Temple.
Lastly, when the Temple stood, a woman had to bring a sacrifice after every successful birth, not just a firstborn.
So that we can make a really funny Bill Murray movie out of it?
I’m all for more holidays like g.h.day.
Lets all make buzzards day an important holiday. I can’t remember just exactly when it is celebrated but we used to use it for an excuse to party.
BTW buzzards day,thats when the buzzards return to Hinkley Ohio.
Hey! Marbury v. Madison is simple!
there are quite a few groundhogs out there that predict the weather.
in philly they have groundhog caroling at city hall on ghd. the songs are rather humourous. my copy of the groundhog carols is at work right now so i can’t give you an example. one does come to mind… it is sung to the tune of greensleeves and is called: “what rodent this?”
Anything that can inspire such a jewel of a movie needs no further justification.
“So what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.” - Bill Murray in Groundhog Day
Hear hear. I think it is a fine movie!
Besides, it makes us Pennsylvania people feel special on that one day of the year.