Groundhog Day Plus One

Okay, so now we know what I didn't know when I wrote this on Wednesday. The results were mixed: Punxy Phil says 6 more weeks of winter, but Octoraro Orphie says early spring. We report, you decide.

Also, I want to direct your attention to an introductory interview with PHMC's new executive director, Jim Vaughan, that is now on the PHMC website.

Since I’m writing this on Wednesday, I can’t report on the results of Groundhog Day 2012. Given that it’s 61 degrees here in Harrisburg (on Feb. 1), my money’s on an early spring. But I’ve been wrong before.

The Pennsylvania German roots of our Feb. 2 obsession with whether or not a rodent sees his shadow are fairly well established, although according to Wikipedia (yeah, that’s right) the origins stretch back to ancient pagan practices as well. In southeastern and central Pennsylvania, Grundsow Lodges celebrate the day with social events at which food is served and skits are presented. (That puts me in mind of our 2012 theme of food and foodways in Pennsylvania.) The most famous groundhog is, of course, Punxsutawney Phil, but there are others (not counting the Pennsylvania Lottery’s Gus)—Octoraro Orphie, Susquehanna Sherman, Poor Richard, Dover Doug, and Uni.

This has been such a mild winter so far for most of us that Groundhog Day doesn’t seem to have quite the urgency it does some years. Whether you’re hoping for more winter or an early spring, I hope you’ll take time to learn about some of the history of the day (or watch the movie).


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