One of the weirdest days of the year passed Saturday when America stopped and waited upon the actions of a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil to play the role of meteorologist. And somehow nobody has questioned this tradition in the nearly 150 years that Groundhog Day has existed. In fact, in Pennsylvania, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club celebrated Groundhog Day from Sunday, Jan. 27 to yesterday, nearly the same number of nights dedicated to Hanukkah — an entire religious holiday.
Groundhog Day has been around since the late 1800s, becoming the most wholesome holiday in America. It’s a prime example for appreciating the smaller things in life, like a groundhog and his shadow. It’s a day in which thousands of people gather to see what Punxsutawney Phil is going to do. Will he see his shadow? Will he not? Do we actually care?
If you do, Phil didn’t see his shadow, which means spring is on its way, supposedly. However, with a lot of the country suffering from a polar vortex, any form of a warm weather promise is a good one. It should be said, however, there is no scientific evidence to support Phil’s prediction, with an estimated 40 percent accuracy rate. With no proof, is there a point to spending 150 years watching the groundhog, large type of squirrel, pop out from a tree every February? The short answer, of course.
Groundhog Day is the purest holiday celebrated in the U.S. each year. The historical significance of the day is minor. There are no presents that appear underneath a tree and not even a feast to go along with the celebration. Yet, somehow Groundhog Day has an entire movie dedicated to it.
Phil and his wife, Phyllis, are presented each year by a group of men dressed in their best attire, top hats and all, to a crowd of thousands all waiting to see if winter will continue or if spring will arrive early. And the best part is no one really cares how the day goes. It’s one of the only events of the year in which no one can get upset about the outcome of the day. It’s the perfect holiday: no one can be let down and consumerism isn’t rampant.
Groundhog Day, in the grand scheme of things, is insignificant. But, it serves as an example of how a day can be simple, but also celebrated for that exact reason. It’s about a groundhog, who is well taken care of throughout the year, and pops out of a fake tree to be presented to thousands of chanting fans each year. How can that not make you smile?
There’s something to be said about celebrating the smaller things in life, like Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, does each year. They’ve taken a seemingly unimportant event and turned it into a day for celebrating. If America can appreciate the actions of a groundhog, can’t it learn to appreciate the smaller things in life, like someone holding the door open, a nice sunset or simply a smile from a stranger on the street?
We’re not saying that there needs to be a parade for getting an A on an exam, but maybe take the time to celebrate the things in life that you normally don’t think twice about. There are things to be learned from a skittish groundhog. Allowing yourself to enjoy something that has no real significance is how we get to be more understanding and appreciative of others. Let yourself appreciate silly things. It’s how we can hold onto the more innocent parts of life.
Groundhog Club co-handler John Griffiths, center, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 133rd celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Phil's handlers said that the groundhog has forecast an early spring. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)