Sure, it’s not real and groundhogs don’t predict the next six weeks of winter and/or the early arrival of Spring. But it’s sort of been imprinted in us that a particular rodent in one part of a state has that ability. So, we sort of go along with it and make a big deal on tv as to whether the little fellow did or did not see its shadow.
Has to do with the animal indicating the appearance of spring, or not, and has been celebrated in Pennsylvania since the 1700’s. Over in Europe, ancient weather lore has a badger or bear doing the prognosticating. Pagans celebrated Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar and predicts the weather.
No animal were harmed in the making of this legend. One animal-rights group wants to have a robot groundhog used, since it claims the ‘hog is in hibernation and attempts to wake it up disturb the wintry slumber and/or other groundhoggery functions. Or, to put it another way, supposedly, “We are not amused.”
But those who know groundhogs say they are often up & about during the winter, especially during this period, and the wise handlers know which ones are best for the celebration which, at least in Pennsylvania, attract upwards of 40,000 and, I suspect, stick around for more than a glance at Phil. One for Phil, one for the road.