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The Shady Truth Behind Groundhog Day

The Shady Truth Behind Groundhog Day

If given the option, groundhogs would probably choose to sleep through their own holiday. While groundhogs hibernate for different periods of time depending on the region and climate, none of them wake up prior to late February or March, meaning that groundhogs are being roused from their essential sleep cycles to participate in these silly meteorological rituals each February 2nd.

In the case of the country’s most famous groundhog, poor Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t get to hibernate at all. He’s held in captivity and kept on display in the local library until the beginning of February when he is paraded in front of thousands of people and camera crews.

The whole ordeal is unnatural enough for PETA to denounce the holiday. The organization urges people to leave groundhogs free to be the animals they are and use a robotic groundhog for the ceremony. To be fair, it seems like a robot would cast a shadow just as easily as an actual groundhog.

For whatever reason, people put a lot of stock into whether the groundhog predicts six more weeks of winter or an early spring. Ultimately, however, you can’t blame the groundhog for his prediction anyway. Not just because the groundhog never stipulated that the sight of his shadow doubles as a weather forecast, but because the truth is it doesn’t even matter if the groundhog sees his shadow. Humans decide the outcome in advance, well before it’s even known whether it will be sunny or cloudy on February 2nd.

If you’re confused as to why people would rig the outcome of something so seemingly trivial, ask the “Inner Circle,” the ominously-named group that tasks itself with predetermining the groundhog’s prognosis. The “shadow” group, if you will, is comprised entirely of old white men who don top hats and suits. The members look like a stereotypical portrayal of the 1%, and it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to crack wise about how the elite feel compelled to manipulate even a third-tier holiday. Go figure that these posh white men think they can control nature and refuse to trust a groundhog to do a job as simple as reflecting or not reflecting a shadow.

And — as a fitting conclusion to this allegory about the elite’s meddling in nature’s affairs — it turns out that the Inner Circle’s predictions are only accurate 39% of the time. That’s pretty dismal. In that case, they might as well just toss a coin. Or, you know, just get a robot like PETA suggested and let hibernating groundhogs stay asleep as nature intended.


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Photo Credit: April King

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8:54PM PST on Feb 6, 2015

I never heard of Groundhog Day before seeing the movie with Bill Murray!

1:30AM PST on Feb 13, 2014

I didn't need PETA to tell me this is a stupid holiday..

3:29PM PST on Feb 7, 2014

Let animals live their lives naturally as God intended!

12:44PM PST on Feb 7, 2014

I do thank you for this article. I never realized the ground hog didn't get to live a normal life before or after all of this. Now I know, thank you. I see this with brand new eyes.

6:54PM PDT on Apr 8, 2013

Thank you Kevin, for Sharing this!

9:28PM PST on Feb 13, 2013

Poor wee beasts. I would have expected better behaviour from a library.

10:10AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

5:13PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

How is this right to keep an animal out of his natural setting for 1 stupid day? Especially when the outcome is predetermined...Ugh shaking my head.

4:43PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

This poor groundhog is yanked out of his hole every year. It's ridiculous!

2:21AM PST on Feb 8, 2013

And still the majority of Americans think this groundhog is allowed to live a normal life, he isn't. Let him go back to being just a groundhog.

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