Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day hogs up logic with winter predictions

Happy Groundhog Day!
… this is a holiday we actually still celebrate, right? Oh, it isn't? Okay then, Happy Thursday!

It seems recent years and understandings of weather phenomena have made this so-called holiday less and less noteworthy. The main problem with Groundhog Day is nobody actually knows what it signifies. No matter if the groundhog sees its shadow or not, people grimace, because it always equates to more winter.

Even with that confusion, this holiday is one of the largest betting days of the year. Will the groundhog see its shadow, will it not? Will anyone care?

The  Groundhog predicts more winter. The joyous dance breaks the 
hearts of millions.

The standard setup is if the groundhog does something (anything), that means six more weeks of winter. However, it's never made clear where that six weeks starts. Take six weeks from today, and that puts you in the middle of March, making Spring actually start on March 15, yippy, an early Spring.

But this previous statement probably made fans of logic cringe. They're probably busy scoffing that nobody would add the six weeks on from today. “Of course, it goes on after the first full day of Spring, March 21,” they'd snark. But simple addition places the “start” of Spring at the beginning of May, and even where I grew up in the arctic tundra of Minnesota, nobody could describe that time as “Winter.”

So this enlarged rat has a 50/50 shot of predicting when winter will end, however, it has a 100 percent chance of not making any sense. Yet all sorts of Bill Murray fans flock to it and apply significance where there shouldn't be anything of note.

Also, doesn't it really just depend on whichever way the guy holds the groundhog? The sun will always be in the east. The person can aim him to any cardinal direction and control the dawn of Spring. Seems like people from the shovel production industry might slip the groundhog a little bit of whatever groundhogs eat to grease the wheels in longer winter's favor. But then again, sunglass manufacturers might also give him even more of whatever groundhogs eat (kelp?) and result in an arms race to decide the sheer insignificance.

Even barring the sheer confusion of Groundhog Day, the holiday is fraught with other bits of sheer confusion. Why exactly do we give this groundhog such mystical weather predicting powers? Was it thought up by some Pennsylvanians? Probably.

Why did we choose groundhogs? I realize they look amazing when they decide that there will be more winter and then start dancing to a Kenny Loggins tunes. But that doesn't really give it any sort of weather predicting powers. I mean, my cat busts some amazing moves too, but he also commonly gets stuck in TVs—I wouldn't give something like that weather-granting powers.

Even with my sheer dislike of the anti-logic of this fake holiday, I still support Groundhog Day. Why? Because it's one of those glorious fake holidays that people feel obligated to celebrate. Arbor Day, Columbus Day, and Groundhog Day. They all fall into the glorious realm of fakedom that I love celebrating. None of these have any effect upon anything, even when they claim to do so, and that makes them fantastic.

So enjoy your magnificent Groundhog Day, I have a feeling he just might see his shadow. I also have a certainty that means nothing.

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