Op-Eds Opinion

Groundhog Day is weird: Phil the Phony

By Jill Campbell
Assistant News Editor

Photo courtesy of Al.com

Old wives’ tales have existed since the beginning of time. Your old Italian grandmother probably always told you that drinking a glass of wine every night would be good for your blood, or that holding your breath for a certain amount of seconds would stop your hiccups. Oh, and don’t you dare walk under a ladder unless you want bad luck.

Even the crowd favorite of trick-or-treating has it’s own questionable roots, some believing it originated from people dressing up to scare away evil spirits. But it’s a tradition we’ve adopted nonetheless, and every year, we continue to dress in costume and beg strangers for candy.

One of the more ridiculous holidays we celebrate every year happens to be today, Feb. 2: Groundhog’s Day.

The story goes that every year on this day, a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil pops out of his humble underground abode and decides the weather for the next month and a half. If he sees his shadow, you better keep those hats and gloves out, because it’s going to be chilly for the next six weeks. If he doesn’t, then kiss the winter winds goodbye.

Now, I can’t imagine that people actually rely on a woodland rodent as an accurate source of information. They live in holes and eat grass for a living. Hell, even meteorologists – people who make their living off predicting tomorrow’s forecast – get it wrong 50 percent of the time. But for those who religiously wait all winter for Phil’s prediction, I just have a few burning questions.

First off, how does one go about becoming the great all-knowing creature? Is there a rigorous application process? Is it something they’re born into, kind of like the royal family of the groundhog world? We’re all dying to know here.

Second, what is the accuracy of these yearly predictions? If Punxsutawney Phil has a 99 percent success rate, I’ll happily eat my words and never doubt his magic powers again.

And last, do the groundhogs get offended by the classic Bill Murray film, “Groundhog Day”? Do they appreciate the acknowledgement after performing such a thankless job? Do they find it trivializes their craft? Let me know.

But then again, who am I to judge? I’ll admit, I harbor some superstitions of my own. Never once did I step on the chalk lines before a softball game. Seeing a black cat stare at me and then dart across the street lowkey gives me the creeps. At one point I believed that swallowing a watermelon seed would make one sprout in my stomach. What can I say, I’m only human.

And who knows, maybe Groundhog’s Day was conjured up by someone like myself who utterly dreads every single day of the winter months and just wanted something to give them hope that it would all be over soon. If that is indeed the case, then I’ll be crossing my fingers right alongside them and hoping that the Groundhog’s shadow is nowhere to be seen. Onward to warmer days!


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