Groundhog Day Origins
The Groundhog Day ceremony dates back to whenever it first started. Odds are the inhabitants of one European country or another created a custom out of observing what they, for some reason, perceived as the climate-deducing abilities of a rodent…whose closest relative their descendants could find after coming to America was the groundhog.
Such a tradition is similar in spirit to the German Hessians bringing Christmas trees here during the American Revolution. Or the British introducing us to Cadbury Crème Eggs to celebrate the Resurrection on Easter. (It’s okay, you can laugh. I’m technically Catholic.)
Groundhog Day Mysteries
Let’s examine the two most perplexing mysteries surrounding Groundhog Day:
Why did those aforementioned descendants opt to settle in a town that’s only other societal contribution is the (admittedly) highly-impressive score its name racks up in Scrabble?
And how does February 2nd mark Groundhog Day in both the United States and Canada, when our countries can’t even agree to set Thanksgiving Day in the same month?
Hedge-hogging His Bets
From the time his predictions were first recorded, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow far more times than not. This indicates to some that Phil is lazy; that his primary motivation to fake the freak-out is simply so he can return to hibernation.
However with Groundhog Day anchored to February 2nd, and the onset of spring consistently set around March 21st, the reality is that whether or not Phil sees his shadow, there are going to be six more weeks of winter. Do the math, people.
Groundhog Day in Pop Culture
When comedian Buddy Hackett voiced the cartoon groundhog in the 1979 Rankin/Bass television production Jack Frost, one can only surmise that he secretly rejoiced in cornering the groundhog character for generations of viewers.
Alas, two things would conspire to deny him his chance at securing immortality.
Unlike Rankin/Bass’s reigning Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jack Frost kind of sucked. As such, it’s rarely seen or even remembered today by anyone. Well, that is, anyone other than writers who must learn reams of useless trivia for those instances when the need to drop obscure references into articles arises.
Hackett’s disappointment at not overtaking Rudolph was later transformed to complete and utter dismay by two simple words: Bill Murray.
Notwithstanding the endless speculation of how many days Phil Connors actually woke up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on February 2nd, (or for that matter how both his friends and the townsfolk could possibly not notice that they too were reliving the same day) Groundhog Day remains the gold standard for movies based on non-holiday holidays.
The film has something for everyone. And to its viewers brings laughter, tears, and a perpetual loathing of Sonny and Cher.
The Groundhog Day Setting
Although Gobbler’s Knob sounds more like the name of an R-rated Bond girl, (perhaps more so than even Pussy Galore, which Saltzman and Broccoli somehow got away with using in Goldfinger- in 1964!) it’s actually the little nook east of Punxsutawney where tuxedo-clad men annually yank Phil out of a plastic tree stump.
Yes, the pomp and circumstance of the day is no doubt appealing. But the question remains that if these men are truly able to understand the language of Groundhog, one might reasonably assume that they’re also intelligent enough to avoid standing in sub-freezing temperatures at 7:30 a.m. to speak with a rodent in possession of no formal meteorological training whatsoever.
Groundhog Day is little more than a morning of benign fun for all. In fact the most perplexing thing about it is why, unlike the winter non-holiday holidays named after Saints’ Valentine and Patrick respectively, so few have yet to find a way to make truckloads of cash commercializing it. At any rate, enjoy the day. And if you can’t make it to western Pennsylvania, there’s always the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
What if a late 20th Century Jack the Ripper tearing apart a small Connecticut town was the result of a pancake shop bet between God and the devil? Imagine if Satan’s impact on the world in the new millennium hinged entirely on one police officer’s skill in hunting down a ruthless killer…hiding in plain sight. Detective Danny Seabrook is an unwitting pawn in a divine chess match with immeasurable consequences for all mankind. Set primarily in 1995, this action-packed suspense thriller features clever dialogue, humor and romance-with an ending you will never forget.
* * * *
As the end draws near for long-retired Sherlock Holmes in Sussex Downs, he calls one last time for the company of his best friend and colleague, Dr. John Watson. What was meant to be four last days of camaraderie and reminiscing instead leads to the most shocking, explosive revelation both of the great detective’s career, and his life.
Sherlock Holmes and the Final Reveal is a Holmes tale like none other ever conceived. Fans of Baker Street’s legendary detective will be left with the insatiable need to contemplate its extraordinary conclusion forevermore.
* * * *
Chris Gay is an author, freelance writer, voice-over artist, broadcaster and actor. For 7 years he wrote and broadcast a daily, minute radio humor spot in Hartford, Connecticut. He’s been published nationally in Writer’s Digest and has written the paranormal, theological thriller novel Ghost of a Chance, Sherlock Holmes and the Final Reveal, (an original, extraordinary short story on the great detective with a spectacular twist) and four humor books: And That’s the Way It Was…Give or Take: A Daily Dose of My Radio Writings, Shouldn’t Ice Cold Beer Be Frozen? My 365 Random Thoughts to Improve Your Life Not One Iota, and The Bachelor Cookbook: Edible Meals with a Side of Sarcasm & Another Round of Ice Cold Beer: My 365 More Random Thoughts to Improve Your Life Not One Iota. He’s written and voiced radio commercials, authored both comedic and non-comedic freelance articles, scripts, press releases, website, media and technical content, done occasional radio color commentary for local sports, and acted in a couple of movies and plays. His website is chrisjgay.com, and his humor blog can be found at chrisgay.wordpress.com.
Hope Springs (Barfly)