Yes its Groundhog Day - the day when Marmota monax across North America, for some inexplicable reason, break their hibernation cycle, pop their little furry faces out of their burrows, make sucking whistling noises and look for their shadows. Now why these little rodents would do this no one seems to know and where exactly this augurial talent fit in with their ability to decimate a lovely patch of bachelor's buttons (yes I know its been 7 years time to get over it!) has never been explained.
|Many thanks to Skip at Skip's House of Chaos for this one.|
And where the heck did this tradition start? Well its a stretch but today on the Christian calender is Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation - once known as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin of Mary, but let's not go there - and there is an old Scottish couplet that warns : "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year." So it could be that Groundhog Day is a bit of reversal on the Christian tradition of hijacking Pagan Feasts. Though of course Candlemas - the day on which all the candles to be used throughout the year are blessed - was possibly a hijacking by Christians of the old Celtic feast of Imbolc. So the wheel of karma turns - oh wait a minute that's another tradition.
What ever the reason for this secular Festum Marmota Monax may be, news wires across the continent are burning up with the results of this year's predictions - if indeed there are still news wires and they are combustible. As the sun moves from Atlantic to Pacific the tally has been mounting:
- Shubenacadie Sam, Nova Scotia - shadow
- Fred la Marmotte, Gaspé - shadow
- Wairton Willie, Ontario - no shadow
- Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania - no shadow
- Staten Island Chuck, New York - no shadow
- General Beauregard Lee, Georgia - shadow
- Manitoba Merv, Manitoba - no shadow - okay he's a puppet but....
- Winnipeg Willow, Manitoba - no shadow
- Balzac Billy, Alberta* - no shadow
Update: All stations now reported in - and the consensus is "early spring" which in Ottawa means sometime in late May - early June.
*Apologies to Balzac Billy for confusing him with Brandon Bob - after a while one groundhog looks like the last groundhog.
02 February - 1901: Funeral of Queen Victoria