|Woody the Michigan Groundhog making the 2020 weather forecast -- Mlive.|
It's Groundhog Day. As the sun rises this morning, the Groundhog, known here in Michigan as Woody the Woodchuck, will come out of the hole where he spends the winter. If the day is sunny, Woody will look around and see his shadow and go back in and we'll have six more weeks of winter. If the weather is cloudy, Woody will not see his shadow. Unfortunately, we'll probably have six more weeks of winter anyway, though Woody is said to have successfully predicted many "mild" winters by failing to see his shadow. Groundhog Day superstitions (and similar beliefs about other burrowing animals) occur in many European traditions, and the explanations are numerous.
UPDATE February 2, 2021: "Woody emerged from her house about 8 a.m. Tuesday. She did not stay out for 30 seconds, indicating she is forecasting six more weeks of winter." Also this news flash makes clear that Woody's preferred pronouns are "she" and "her." My bad. (source)
I have seen many wild groundhogs in the Ann Arbor area where I live, mostly in the spring and summer. I don't recall ever taking any photos of them. Googling for images of Michigan groundhogs, I mostly find advertisements for pest control services -- because groundhogs do a lot of damage to gardens, sheds, decks, patios, concrete work, and other structures that they ruin by burrowing and making tunnels. Not a popular animal except on February 2.
|Woody the groundhog belongs to the |
Michigan Department of Natural Resources. (DNR)
While in past years, Woody the forecasting woodchuck has appeared to an admiring crowd at an early-morning event beside his hole in a DNR facility in Howell, MI. This year, the festival will be virtual (information here). For Ann Arbor and nearby Howell tomorrow's forecast is "partly cloudy." We'll see what happens!
Groundhog Day has another name and meaning in Catholic countries: February 2 is called Candlemas. This holiday commemorates the 40th day after Christmas with a variety of religious rituals, including blessings that involve candles. Outside the church, Candlemas celebrations involve food, dancing, and other enjoyments. In France, Switzerland, French Canada, and other French-speaking places, the favorite food for the holiday is crêpes. Some Candlemas festivals include tossing a partly-fried crêpe in the air and catching it in the frying pan; in some places these crêpes are wrapped around a gold coin. In past times, farm families used to preserve one of these crêpes in their wardrobe, believing that it was a way ensure good crops. In Marseilles, bakeries made little boat-shaped pastries to celebrate the holiday. In Spain, the food traditions were quite different, including small onions and barbecued meat. A very complete collection of Candlemas traditions appears here: "Candlemas" at Gourmetpedia.
|In France, Candlemas is called La Chandeleur, which is often|
celebrated with crêpes. (Photo from a past trip to a Paris crêperie.)
|In the main square of Lima, Peru, we watched a huge Candelaria parade on February 2, 2017.|
When we toured downtown Lima, the Candelaria, or Candlemas, holiday had attracted hundreds of groups from towns and villages in the high Andes. Wearing elaborate and colorful costumes and headdresses, they were participating in parades and dancing in the streets. Normally our tour would have visited the cathedral (as seen in the background of the photo) but it was much more fun instead to see the many dancing groups, especially indigenous people, from all over Peru.
Blog post and original photos © 2021 mae sander for mae food dot blog spot dot com. Other photos as credited.