Did you know that Groundhog Day originated as a religious Feast Day oriented to the purification ritual of Mary the Mother of Jesus and Christ’s presentation at the temple? Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It is based upon the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22-40.
In northern Europe, the day 40 days after Christmas was a time folk were looking forward to the end of winter. Somehow the hedgehog got associated with the prediction of winter going on or, hopefully, an early spring.
That custom was then brought to America. Since there were no hedgehogs, the Americans upsized to the groundhog and, I guess, since everyone is ready to end winter, the custom took hold. On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, was celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.
It may be a hopeful observance, but the statisticians, as they usually do, took the joy of the notion that we could ever predict the future. It has been observed that the groundhog is wrong more than a random distribution.
Without getting all tied up in analytics, I enjoy the fun of the day. One of my favorite movies is “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. It takes a turn on Groundhog Day with the idea that knowing what is going to happen is kind of a curse.
We live our lives with HOPE. The future is ours to work toward. We prepare, we pray, and we should celebrate the freedom we have to follow Christ as our example every day.
Let us have a great February!