Friday, February 02, 2007

Déjà vu all Over Again

That’s right, folks – it’s that time again: February 2nd, better known as Groundhog Day. One of the quirkier traditions in our quirky old country, Groundhog Day is the mid-winter holiday when, according to legends promulgated by the kind folks in Punxsutawney PA, a small rodent named Phil wakes up from his winter sleep to forecast the coming of spring.

Probably rooted in the European Christian traditions of Candlemas, Groundhog Day is much more secular (and silly!). On the morning of February 2nd, “Punxsutawney Phil”, the famous groundhog, ascends from his winter hibernation to look for his shadow. The official interpretation of all this is somewhat counter-intuitive: If Phil-the-Groundhog sees his shadow, winter will continue for six more weeks; but should he emerge and not see his shadow, then spring is just around the corner. Exactly how we know whether or not Phil has seen his shadow is just one of the many intriguing questions surrounding this midwinter event.

The original and official Groundhog Day takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (starting at 3am!), though many of us will prefer to stay indoors (where it’s warm) and watch the wonderful Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, which was set in Punxsutawney (which is about 90 minutes northeast of Pittsburgh…) but filmed in Woodstock Illinois, (which is about an hour northwest of Chicago…).

Woodstock (home of the Dick Tracy museum) is a worthwhile detour north from our US-20 road trip route across Illinois.

Click here to learn Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction for 2007 weather, and for anything else to do with Groundhog Day.


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