Do you know the only mammal to have a day named in his honor? Yes, it is the lowly groundhog, sometimes called the woodchuck.
The groundhog’s day is February 2. Now, it’s not a federal holiday and nobody gets off work. But, to have a day named after you is quite a feat.
How did the groundhog come by this honor? It stems from the ancient belief that hibernating creatures were able to predict the arrival of springtime by their emergence.
The German immigrants known as Pennsylvania Dutch brought the tradition to America in the 18th century.
Traditionally, the groundhog is supposed to awaken on February 2, Groundhog Day, and come up out of his burrow. If he sees his shadow, he will return to the burrow for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, he remains outside and starts his year, because he knows that spring has arrived early.
In the U.S., the “official” groundhog is kept in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Every February 2, amid a noisy celebration early in the morning, “Punxsutawney Phil” as the groundhog is called, is pulled from his den by his keepers, who are dressed in tuxedos. Phil then whispers his weather prediction into the ear of his keeper, who then announces it to the anxiously awaiting crowd.
Of course, this is for show. It’s a fun celebration and a great tradition. But Phil’s keepers probably decide upon the “forecast” in advance of the groundhog’s awakening.
Come to think of it, spring always arrives on or near March 21, so whether the groundhog decides to return to his den or remain above ground, the sad fact is spring will always have to wait at least six more weeks.
What do you think Clay Aiken is doing this Groundhog Day? Is he at home, putting the finishing touches on his tour, or is he on his way to New York for his Broadway appearance? Wherever he is, I hope Clay is having a great day!
Pictures of Clay always make me smile. How about you?