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Digging up my thoughts on Groundhog Day

Photo+Courtesy+of+Creative+Commons
Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are all in the rearview mirror, and it feels like a blip on the radar. To keep myself always looking forward to something, I (sort of) observe a holiday that isn’t quite as commercialized: Groundhog Day. You know, the day when an overweight rodent who’s spent a little too much time hibernating emerges from the abyssal depths of the soil and foretells when spring will come. And this particular rodent gauges his predictions on a meticulously calculated, carefully refined metric: whether or not he sees his shadow. 

“That’s impossible!” 10-year-old me retorts. You know what, prepubescent self? I agree. Groundhog Day has no scientific backing, and no one has seen the gorundhog’s predictions consistently come true. And the entire premise of Groundhog Day is juvenile. No offense to the rodents of the world, but how could a rodent even care about its shadow, let alone determine if winter ends now or six weeks later? I have never taken the chubby-cheeked creature seriously, and I never will, but that’s exactly why I enjoy the holiday. Frankly, believers of Groundhog Day will be PLEADING that the groundhog won’t see his shadow so we won’t again be trapped in the icy tundra that ferociously enveloped our beautiful locale and canceled two days of school. But even for people like me, who don’t take stock in the rodent’s clairvoyance, Groundhog Day is a fun, lighthearted little tradition that at least elicits a smile or a chuckle during a time of year when it’s easy to feel the winter blues. 

Groundhog Day may not be an official holiday, but it is officially commemorated in some towns. In Woodstock, Illinois, people gather to hear the prophecies of a groundhog christened Woodstock Willie. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil. Punxsutawney is also the setting of the 1993 comedy movie “Groundhog Day”. 

Those of you who read my piece about Halloween movies know that I enjoy a good horror flick, but I like a good laugh too. My family and I have watched “Groundhog Day” every early February since 2019, so I guess that has made it a mini-holiday for me. But you want some deets on the movie, so here’s the cliff notes version. “Groundhog Day” is about a guy named Phil Connors who is a weather reporter in Punxsutawney. He’s the closed-minded, pessimistic type who just slithers through the daily grind of life without much motivation. On Groundhog Day, everyone in Punxsutawney flocks to the town square to see Phil the Magic Rodent unveil the secrets of the Universe, which perturbs Phil because he is assigned to give the event—which he thinks is dumb— broadcast coverage. His sour outlook on life and his assignment annoys his coworkers. Fortunately, Phil is given a chance to fix his bad attitude when he wakes up the next morning to find that it is Groundhog Day again! He is forced to relive the exact same day over and over again until he learns to act in a way that is kind to everyone he comes across. When he does, his time-loop curse is broken, leaving Phil a changed man.

Who knew a seemingly trivial day like Groundhog Day can have deep moral lessons behind it? I certainly didn’t. But I guess the triviality sparks peoples’ imaginations and inspires them to give it more meaning. 12 days before Valentine’s Day, the movie frames Groundhog Day as a hilarious, chaotic reminder to love others and yourself. So happy Groundhog Day (or early Val Day?) to everyone! 



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About the Contributor
Justin Peabody
Justin Peabody, Copy Editor
Hi everyone! My name is Justin Peabody, and I am a Copy Editor for the Prospector. I am currently a senior, and this is my second year on staff. I enjoy producing news and feature stories the most, but I have dabbled a bit in opinion writing as well. Outside of journalism, I run Mid-Distance Track. My favorite event is the 800 meter! I can solve the 3x3 Rubik’s Cube in under 3 minutes (if I’m lucky, under 2 minutes).

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