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An Unusual Holiday Means An Unsual History

 

I have come to the conclusion that my first year in college was definitely a weird one. There were new experiences and events I was a part of; some I liked and others that have easily been forgotten.

 

I have come to the conclusion that my first year in college was definitely a weird one. There were new experiences and events I was a part of; some I liked and others that have easily been forgotten.

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But one memory that will probably stay with me forever is the fact that I went to a Groundhog Day party.

Believe it or not, a party was held on the famous holiday. It didn’t take place because the host was trying to be witty, it just came about by accident. My friends and I we’re bored one weekend and we wanted to make something out of a boring and ordinary day.

Once everyone was at the venue (a friend’s living room) we finally realized that it was Groundhog Day. Surprisingly, that very day became one of the highlights of our first year in college.

Since then, we have been talking about having another party on the holiday. But aside from fun and games, what exactly is the unusual day about?

Groundhog Day, which is celebrated on February 2nd across the United States and Canada, has become a North American tradition. It is based on the belief that on the appointed day, the groundhog (also known as the woodchuck) comes out of its hole after winter hibernation to look for its shadow.

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If it sees its shadow, then the groundhog foretells six more weeks of winter. If no shadow is seen because of the clouds, then the result is an early spring.

These predictions owe its origin to the European tradition of Candlemas (festival of lights). There is an old European statement that a sunny Candlemas day would lead the winter to last for 'another six weeks'.

Gradually the traditions at this Candlemas came to associate with them different folklores. The Germans added the belief of an animal, initially a hedgehog, being frightened by his shadow on Candlemas would foretell that winter would last another six weeks.

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This belief was brought in America during the 18th Century by the German settlers, who adopted the groundhog as their weather predictor.

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Groundhog Day then came into being in North America during the late 1800s. Thanks to the combined effort of Clymer H. Freas, a newspaper editor, and W. Smith, an American Congressman and newspaper publisher.

They organized and popularized a yearly festival in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, which was populated by a lot of German settlers. The festival featured a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil which used to foretell how long the winter would last.

Aside from Punxsutawney Phil, there have been a lot of other weather forecasters in North America. There’s Staten Island Chuck in New York City, New York, General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, Georgia and also the famous Wiarton Willie in Wiarton, Ontario.

But the holiday wasn’t witnessed by a lot of people throughout generations and generations. The 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray was a major reason to why so many people attend the event nowadays.

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The reason the movie had such a major impact is because of the comedic storyline and how it was also taken place in Punxsutawaney, Pennsylvania. Since then, thousands of people have gathered around their hometown weather forecasters to see how the winter season would play out.

Now there has been some controversy about the holiday itself. When you really think about, six more weeks of winter and six more weeks until spring have exactly the same meaning.

This surprising fact is why some people in today’s society don’t really care about the unique holiday. But it doesn’t matter if you like the holiday or not. What does count is how long this tradition has gone on for.

If you look towards the future, you will see that the holiday will keep attracting more people as the years go on. Just look at college students, they’re actually having parties on February 2nd.

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