How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?

Groundhog Day 2016

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck

If a woodchuck could chuck wood?

When it comes to major holidays in the USA, Groundhog Day does not qualify. Nobody gets the day off with pay. Nobody pays much attention to it unless, of course, they're from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and then the groundhog steals the show. As the ultimate prognosticator of Spring, if old Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow when he emerges from his burrow on February 2nd, there'll be six more weeks of winter. If it's cloudy and he casts no shadow, we can be assured of an early Spring.


Phil, or his progeny, has been forecasting the advent of spring since 1887. His forecast accuracy isn't all that great … about 39%. He tends to predict longer winters, rather than earlier springs, i.e. it's been sunny or bright enough to cast a shadow on more February 2nds than not over the past 129 years.

groundhog day stats

There's evidently lots to do in Punxsutawney around this time of year. There's the Annual Groundhog Ball, known locally as the Hog Ball. This year the tickets are $30/pp. The theme is masquerade (wear a mask) and Rudy and the Professionals are playing. Could get rowdy. There's a heated celebration tent with entertainment and food/beverages for sale at Gobbler's Knob. The rest of the year's events all seem to revolve around the hog theme. I think I'd like to go one year. It would be a winter road trip. We tend to enjoy bizarre, off-the-beaten track events. That said, they estimate 20,000 people attend, so we certainly wouldn't be alone.


It's interesting to note, by the way, that Groundhog Day, like so many other holidays we celebrate, has its roots in old customs and religions. Imbolc, the mid-winter pagan celebration, “was traditionally a time of weather divination, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens may be a forerunner of the North American Groundhog Day.” It may be, in fact, that the celebration dates back as far as the Romans. Who would have thunk it?

This year, however, we're in Las Vegas and as far we're concerned, spring has already sprung. It never really gets all that cold here, comparatively speaking, though the locals sometime complain. The average temps are slowly rising and there's plenty of sun and warm, pleasant days … before the desert heat takes over in a couple of months. How will we celebrate? Glad, you asked. I think we'll watch the live feed of Phil emerging from his burrow, indulge in our annual viewing of the movie Groundhog Day ...

... and maybe even listen to Stephen Tobolowsky's podcast commentary on the film. Maybe we'll take the Groundhog Day quiz and practice the woodchuck tongue twister.


I also checked out some facts about groundhogs. For instance, groundhogs and woodchucks are the same critter. Gophers are different. Amazing the number of trivial facts you can ferret out when you've nothing better to do. And, yes, in case you were wondering, I'm getting mighty impatient waiting around for the closing on the house, the move and then planning our return trip to Nine of Cups. Patience...patience...patience!