Monday, February 1, 2010

Groundhog Day 2010

Groundhog Day is an annual holiday celebrated on February 2. It is held in the United States and Canada. According to folklore, if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day fails to see its shadow, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter will soon end. If on the other hand, the groundhog sees its shadow, the groundhog will supposedly retreat into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks. The holiday, which began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European weather lore, wherein a badger or sacred bear is the prognosticator as opposed to a groundhog. The holiday also bears some similarities to the medieval Catholic holiday of Candlemas It also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 2 and also involves weather prognostication.

Groundhog Day in popular culture

* At the end of Disney's 1930 Silly Symphonies short film Winter, Mr. Groundhog the Weather Prophet comes out of his hole to determine whether or not there will be more winter. At first, he does not see his shadow, but the clouds clear and his shadow appears, causing him to run back inside. At this point, the winds picks up again and winter continues.

* In the 1979 Rankin-Bass Christmas TV special Jack Frost, a crucial plot point in the story involves Jack casting his own shadow on Groundhog Day for six more weeks of winter. At the end of the story it is revealed that the narrator (voiced by Buddy Hackett) is the groundhog.

* The 1993 comedy movie Groundhog Day takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on this day (although the majority of the movie was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois). The main character (played by Bill Murray) is forced to relive the day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness and become a better person[48]. In popular culture, the phrase "Groundhog Day" has come to represent going through a phenomenon over and over until one spiritually transcends it.

* The Sega Genesis game Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was released in the United States on February 2, 1994, dubbed "Hedgehog Day", a reference to the holiday. "Hedgehog Day" is also an episode in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic book.

* In the episode "Next Question" of the children's animated show, As Told By Ginger, Carl and Hoodsey liberate the town's groundhog so they can sell scarves remembering their Groundhog, Pete. When the matter is investigated, a monkey, Mr. Licorice, is found in the hole and people think that he ate Pete.

* In an episode of The O.C titled "The Groundhog Day," Seth Cohen and Che attempt to save the animal used on Groundhog Day in their town of Newport.

* On January 9, 2006, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office presented installments of the Groundhog 202 film series, a Groundhog Day promotion that played off The Shining. The film shows what happens when the groundhog, stuck inside for 364 days, goes mad with cabin fever. On January 11, 2007, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office presented installments of the Groundhog Crossing film series, a Groundhog Day promotion that depicted the departure of the Shadow from his friend the Groundhog in an attempt to stop the cycle of winter predictions.

* Nintendo's GameCube game, Animal Crossing celebrates Groundhog Day on February 2nd as well. The mayor of the in-game town mentions it's the day "The groundhog fairy comes around to give groundhogs to all the good little boys and girls" and a mole character takes up the role of Groundhog for the celebrations.

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