Yes, it's groundhog day. I won't bore you with details, a little history, a little about the creature, and of course a recipe. Not mine. I don't cook groundhog. I would if I had to, but I don't. Anyway, it's a fun day, and a little humour goes a long way. Without further ado, here is the rest of the story.
The groundhog (Marmota monax), also known as the woodchuck, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. The groundhog is a lowland creature of North America; it is found through much of the Eastern United States, across Canada and into Alaska. It was first scientifically described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758.
Groundhogs stand on their hind legs to watch for predators.
The groundhog is also referred to as a chuck, wood-shock, groundpig, whistlepig, whistler, thickwood badger, Canada marmot, monax, moonack, weenusk, red monk, land beaver, and, among French Canadians in eastern Canada, siffleux. The name "thickwood badger" was given in the Northwest to distinguish the animal from the prairie badger. Monax (Móonack) is an Algonquian name of the woodchuck, which means "digger" (cf. Lenape monachgeu). Young groundhogs may be called chucklings.
The groundhog, being a lowland animal, is exceptional among marmots. Other marmots, such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas. Groundhogs play an important role maintaining healthy soil in woodlands and plains. The groundhog is considered a crucial habitat engineer. Groundhogs are considered the most solitary of the marmot species. They live in aggregations, and their social organization also varies across populations. Groundhogs do not form stable, long-term pair-bonds, and during mating season male-female interactions are limited to copulation. In Ohio, adult males and females associate with each other throughout the year and often from year to year. Groundhogs are an extremely intelligent animal, forming complex social networks, able to understand social behavior, form kinship with their young, understand and communicate threats through whistling, and work cooperatively to solve tasks such as burrowing.
Groundhog Day (Nova Scotia: Daks Day) is a tradition observed in the United States and Canada on February 2 of every year. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and sees its shadow, it will retreat to its den and winter will go on for six more weeks; if it does not see its shadow, spring will arrive early.
While the tradition remains popular in the 21st century, studies have found no consistent association between a groundhog seeing its shadow and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather.
The weather lore was brought from German-speaking areas where the badger (German: Dachs) is the forecasting animal. It is related to the lore that clear weather on the Christian festival of Candlemas forebodes a prolonged winter.
The Groundhog Day ceremony held at Punxsutawney in western Pennsylvania, centering on a semi-mythical groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, has become the most frequently attended ceremony. Grundsow Lodges in Pennsylvania Dutch Country in the southeastern part of the state observe the occasion as well. Other cities in the United States and Canada also have adopted the event.
And one last bit of bonus material, a link to the movie "Groundhog Day". (FREE)
Cheers, and Happy Groundhog Day! May the Spring be Upon Us!