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Groundhog Day...Now You Know

Written by MJ Reporter Willow LaMunyon

Yes, it is that day. The day that put Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on the map and made groundhogs the most famous oracles in the animal kingdom.

How did such an unusual holiday ever happen? It all started exactly midwinter when clergy would bless and distribute candles to last the rest of the winter. The number of candles represented the length of time cold winter would last predicted by badgers. Somewhere in the 1700s, immigrants brought the custom to America, and with retelling, groundhogs were substituted for badgers since badgers were hard to find.

In 1886 the Punxsutawney paper wrote an article about the holiday, and the next year, a group of businessmen created the Punxsutawney groundhog club, which was the first Groundhog Day.

If you have seen the movie Groundhog Day and who hasn’t, you might think the annual event happened in downtown Punxsutawney, but a trip there would leave you disappointed. The original holiday started at Gobbler’s Knob, which is a few miles out of town. Even though the site is only used on February second each year, the props remain up all year. Here is a link to tell you more about Gobbler’s Knob

Groundhog Day has an even longer history throughout many countries. The Irish Gaelic celebrate Imbic, also called Oimelc, which is a celebration of the Goddess Brighid and also St. Brigid in the Christian Faith.

In Rome, Lupercalia is celebrated in February second to honor the founding of the city of Rome by the twins Romulus and Remus, who were reared by a wolf in a cave known as the “Lupercale.”

On February second, Egyptians celebrated the birthday of Nut, who, according to the “Book of The Dead,” was the mother figure to the sun god Ra.

As you can see, Groundhog Day has quite a history behind it. As for Punxsutawney Phil, his predictions are approximately 39% correct.

The day after Groundhog Day is also a day of celebration, even though it isn’t a national holiday. As you enjoy the reviews and stories in Medicare Jetsetters, February third is the celebration of the birthday of its co-founder and owner Shelley Stutchman. Shelley was born during a snowstorm mid-morning, and the world became a better place. Happy Birthday to the best sister ever.

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