Happy Pest Day… I mean, Groundhog’s Day
February 1, 2016
There are many meaningful holidays in both the US and the world, ranging from religious ones, such as Easter and Kwanza, to days of remembrance, like Independence Day and Thanksgiving. These important and meaningful holidays, however, are far outnumbered by the irrelevant ones, such as Groundhog’s Day.
Groundhog’s Day traces its roots back to a Christian Holiday known as Candlemas Day. This was actually an important day, where the clergy would hand out and bless the candles that were needed for the winter. These candles represented how long and cold the winter would be.
After it started here, the tradition was expanded on by the Germans, who used a hedgehog to determine how long the winter would be. When German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, they switched to groundhogs, as they were far more plentiful than hedgehogs.
This is all well and good, but it falls apart when it is tested by actual science. Groundhogs hibernate all winter, and in February, the male groundhogs come out to look for a mate. Afterwards, they go back underground and wake up for good sometime in March.
Thus, the idea of a predicting the weather is nothing but a foolish superstition.
Unfortunately, the thousands of people that converge in Punxsutawney, PA, do not understand that they are worshiping a false weather deity. They host a three-day festival every year with entertainment and other activities at Gobbler’s Knob as they wait to see Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow prediction.
This groundhog worship is one of the most foolish celebrations and is somehow immensely famous. The rodent receives worship for a day and afterward returns to its status of a small, annoying, destructive- with an emphasis on destructive- pest.
Farmers despise these rodents and have despised them since they existed. A groundhog is an omnivore, but it eats vegetation more than anything else. It particularly enjoys eating crops due to the ease of access.
This leads to them already being on farmers’ bad sides, and they also destroy farm machinery, break the legs of livestock, drain ponds and undermine building foundations with their burrows, putting them on the hot seat for the wrath of the farmer population.
So, I ask, why do we celebrate such a destructive and annoying pest? Be it superstition or tradition, it is foolish. If we truly wish to celebrate the original, important holiday it began as, Candlemas, we should do something like light a candle in the window or have a nice candle lit dinner. Down with the false rodent god, and return us to the meaningful, sane holiday known as Candlemas.