The real meaning of Groundhog Day might surprise you


Groundhog Day, an annual holiday celebrated on Feb. 2, is not one of the more popular holidays. It doesn’t have the presents of Christmas or the chocolate bunnies of Easter.

But that doesn’t stop some families from finding ways to celebrate. One farm owner from Kansas explaied that they celebrate Groundhog Day by eating groundhogs.

“In Kansas our traditional breakfast meal for Groundhog Day is barbecue groundhog with turnip greens,” said Kansas farm owner Scott McCoy.

His celebration of this eclectic story is an all-day affair. “I go out early in the morning, catch them and then bring them home,” he said. “Sister McCoy filets them and then barbecues them. She makes the best barbecued groundhog in three counties.”

Other families celebrate in a more modern way. Katie Schouten, a mechanical engineering major at BYU, explained that her family has taken the holiday of Groundhog Day and made it into a memorable family experience.

“Every year we eat meatloaf, chocolate cake, and we watch the movie ‘Groundhog Day,'” Schouten said. “We sometimes say that the chocolate cake is in the shape of groundhogs.”

Schouten’s family, rather than worrying about the potential six weeks of winter, has taken a holiday that is not normally celebrated and used it as an opportunity for family bonding that they remember and celebrate even after leaving home.

For those interested in celebrating Groundhog Day but who are at a loss for how to start, has lots of suggestions. The website lists activities like shadow tag or making shadow puppets and even features recipes for “groundhog cookies.”

People may question why we celebrate Groundhog Day in the first place. Interestingly enough, in the world of Christianity, this day actually holds significance.

Groundhog Day’s roots are in a German holiday known as Candlemas Day, a day that celebrates the presentation of baby Jesus at the temple, as recorded in the book of Luke.

How did such an event become the groundhog-loving tradition that we know and hardly regard? Strangely enough, Candlemas Day was also the day when many Europeans believed bears would begin awaking from hibernation. The bears would poke their heads out of their caves to inspect the weather. If they found it satisfactory, they would leave hibernation, but if unsatisfactory, the bears would return to their caves for several more weeks.

When the Germans settled in Pennsylvania, they found that the groundhog was an animal of high enough intelligence, and quantity, to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day, which we now know as Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day may never become a major holiday, but whether you’re barbecuing, watching the movie or celebrating in the more traditional ways, making Groundhog Day a part of your annual tradition can create memorable family experiences.

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