Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day!

If you know me, you know I heart me some groundhogs....see really old blog from May of 2008. And I have a stuffed pet one that I got for Christmas a few years back, sometimes, he calls me on skype when I'm away for long periods of time-true story. Though, he doesn't do it alone. Brenda is usually with my teddy bear...duh. :-)

So this year, I had BIG PLANS for seeing the Groundhog live and in person. I was trekking over to Punxatawney to see Phil, but alas, that silly "winter storm" got a hold of the mid-west, and I did not. BOO! So, turns out he did NOT see his shadow this year, and rumor is that "spring is just around the corner"....we'll see...that could also mean that my front lawn may make an appearance in 2011. Wow. So, back to the blog. Everybody knows it's February 2. Right? Well, everybody except "Viktor" (who also swears that nobody in Texas....NOBODY...knows when Groundhog Day is-poor Texas missing holidays.) February 2, is also my 6 month birthday, equally as important! :-)

So why February 2? Why the Groundhog? Well, READ ON! According to Al Gore's internet, it all started with "Candlemas Day". This day originally came from the Germans and was the mid-point between the first day of the winter and the first day of spring. Legend said that if this day was fair (sunny), then the second-half of winter would be stormy. In their native land of Germany, the Germans looked at a badger to see if they could see his shadow. When they settled in North America in Pennsylvania, the local Indians had a great respect for groundhogs so they substituted a groundhog for the badger, and really...badgers sounds meaner-sorry Wisconsin fans.

What, for the love, is "Candlemas Day"? The 2nd of February is an ancient festival that marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox. In olden times, many people used to say that the Christmas season lasted for forty days - until the second day of February. (So you slackers with your tree up, can feel justified, but ONLY through TODAY!) So why call THAT day "Candlemas"?

Well, apparently it was was the day of the year when all the candles, that were used in the church during the coming year, were brought into church and a blessing was said over them - so it was the Festival Day (or 'mass') of the Candles.

Candles were important in those days not only because there was no electric lights, but also some people thought they gave protection against plague and illness and famine. For Christians, they were (and still are) a reminder of something even more important. Before Jesus came to earth, it was as if everyone was 'in the dark'. People often felt lost and lonely. Afraid. As if they were on their own, with no one to help them. Then came Jesus with his message that he is with his followers always ready to help and comfort them. As if he is a guiding light to them in the darkness. Jesus IS 'the light of the World' - and candles are lit during church services to remind Christians of this.

Some Factoids?
-It was a Gopher in Caddyshack, not a groundhog.
-Groundhogs whistle when courting...which seems sweet...until you learn that boy groundhogs take off before the babies are born...leaving it all up to mom.
-IF a woodchuck could chuck wood? He'd chuck about 700 pounds. (Groundhogs are not beavers, but the joke is IF a woodchuck could chuck wood-beaver do chuck wood!) They are not so adept at moving timber, but some will chew wood....(According to a wildlife biologist once measured the inside volume of a typical woodchuck burrow and estimated that -- if wood filled the hole instead of dirt -- the industrious animal would have chucked about 700 pounds' worth. Thanks Cornell University for that!)

SO THAT, my friends, is why the 2nd and why the Groundhog. Perhaps NEXT year, I'll see Phil live and in person, for now? I'm celebrating my 6 month birthday AND Chinese New Year! I went to my Chinese Restaurant today to pick up sushi (yes again, something IS the matter with me, I can't go 24 hours without raw fish!?) Anyway, I told the girl Happy New Year! She got all excited, and asked me if I celebrated. Um...sort of-I support you...and your Chinese ordering Japanese food?! Taper off.... And then I said, year of the Rabbit huh!? And she got more excited! YES!!! Finally! Should be better!! She says. I said Oh? What was last year? Her face got all serious...and she said....the year of the tiger, the tiger is hard...the rabbit should be better. So there you have it folks....the groundhog didn't see his shadow and it's officially the year of the Rabbit and you have 6 months to find me the perfect present. :-)

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