Happy Groundhog Day! The American holiday where we turn to a furry little rodent to plan the next six weeks of our lives. Makes sense. But why? Why do we do it? Besides the fact that we do a lot of things that don’t make sense.
We do it…because it’s what we’ve always done? Well, not really. According to folklorist Dan Yoder, the holiday has evolved over centuries. He says it began in pre-Christian Western Europe when the Celtic culture dominated the area (cnn.com). The culture then didn’t have solstices like we know today. But they did have similar dates that represented the seasons changing. Four them throughout the year. May 1 became May Day, November 1 became All Saints’ Day. And February 1 (eventually moving to February 2) became Groundhog Day.
Don’t Eat The Groundhog!!
So we did adopt this tradition of associating the weather with the furry little groundhog. Cause it’s fun and he’s cute. But let’s just take a minute to thank the heavens that we don’t still do the OTHER part of the tradition. Yep. They used to eat that poor groundhog after he predicted the weather.
In the early 19th century, Groundhog Day was celebrated with this culinary twist in the festivities. The Groundhog Picnic, as it was called, happened every Groundhog Day at the Punxsutawney Elk Lodge in Pennsylvania. Locals would come to the lodge for lunch and reveled in how tender the groundhog’s meat was. Ewwwwww. They didn’t tell us THAT part of this story in the Groundhog Day movie. Leave it up to Hollywood to sugar coat history. Amarite?
I think it’s safe to say that this holiday is a little crazy in its traditions. But there are even more holidays we celebrate here in the states that will have you scratching your head. Fortunately, none of them involve eating a rodent. – Wendy Rush