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February 6th, 2013 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Groundhog Day... Again

Do they factor in global warming before groundhogs come out of their holes?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall
     
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It’s Groundhog Day and I heard he didn’t see his shadow. Early spring maybe? When groundhogs get up in the morning on Groundhog Day, do they factor in global warming before they come out of their holes? 

—Steve M.

I wouldn’t read too much into this, Steve. After all, Punxsutawney Phil, the attention-whore groundhog who sucks up the Groundhog Day headlines for the whole country, was predicting the weather in Pennsylvania, not here.

Luckily, Portland has its own tradition. In our version, we rather insufferably point out that, actually, Groundhog Day derives from earlier, European traditions involving a hedgehog, and so it’s really more correct to use Jabari, an African pygmy hedgehog at the Oregon Zoo. I swear I am not making this up. Leave it to Portland to do Groundhog Day with an artisan groundhog.

For the record, Jabari saw his shadow. Also for the record, both Jabari and Phil are wrong well over half the time. This is probably due to the coming climate apocalypse that is rapidly rendering the concept of “winter” obsolete. (When the streets run red with blood and the living envy the dead, don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Groundhog Day is derived from a pagan holiday called Imbolc, the festival of—I shit you not—the lactating ewe. The date falls halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, in keeping with the ancient Druidic hobby of splitting the calendar into ever smaller and more pointless sections, and was Christianized as Candlemas. (Not to be confused with Handlemas, the festival of 1.75-liter liquor bottles.)

Imbolc is one of the four main Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Lughnasadh, Beltane and Samhain. Any of these would be a great day to burn a wicker man with your boss inside. Who knew Groundhog Day could be so metal?


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