Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Groundhog Day

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.

I will spare you my gripes about being trapped in a never-changing world where every day is the same and there's no escape, like the movie Groundhog Day. Eat a crêpe. Smile. Maybe spring will come and bring vaccine.

Blog post and original photos © 2021 mae sander for mae food dot blog spot dot com. Other photos as credited.


Anne in the kitchen said...

I woke this morning and while I was sipping on my coffee I could see the shadow of a chipmunk, but never could actually find the critter. I guess chances of our local groundhog seeing his/her shadow are relatively high today.

Debra Eliotseats said...

Totally forgot it was Groundhog Day until I read this. With the weather system over the Northeast, I hope it's a shorter winter. Here the sun is shining but a chilly 40 degrees. I had to laugh at Woody's preferred pronouns!!!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Last year, we celebrated Candlemas at a Catholic church in Paris. By some odd quirk of fate, I ended up leading the line of people holding lighted candles walking to the front of the church. It's a happy memory.

And apparently the groundhog last year must have gone back inside, somehow predicting six more months? years? of indoor activity.

LA Paylor said...

spring will come, but it's good to dream of other cultures and places.
the art quilt challenge this week is "dream vacation" and I can't choose among Lake Placid, Paris, tropics, or Italy's wine country.
Imagine being able to travel safely again

Ju-Lyn said...

Woody is too adorable!
Thank you for sharing about Candlemas and the celebrations in Lima. Virtual travel - the only way to go ... and what keeps us entertained for hours!


Tandy | Lavender and Lime (http://tandysinclair.com) said...

Hopefully six weeks will make all the difference.

Tina said...

I grew up with Phil being the only forecaster from PA but I am enjoying seeing all the groundhogs across the northeast getting press.
The she/ her thing.... recently we had an email from the humane society about a dog we had applied for adoption. The lady signed her name and underneath it stayed she/ her. First time I ever saw it. Then we saw it in another post or email so.... I guess that’s the politically correct thing now.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I'm used to Punxsutawney Phil being my groundhog of choice, although he appears to be wrong as often as he is correct.

Divers and Sundry said...

That Phil's accuracy rate is only 39% gives me hope ;)

We've observed Candlemas in our family in the past, but it's not a part of our religious or cultural tradition.

I love those orange skirts!

My name is Erika. said...

I have heard of Candlemas but didn't know much about it. Thanks for an interesting post. I love learning new things.

Iris Flavia said...

This sure is one of my fav movies (Bill Murray), oh, guess what I´ll watch tonight (if too late, and yikes, loads of snow in forecast).
I didn´t know the other meaning or yummy food, thank you for telling!
Oh, yes. I should read till the end before commenting on the run.
I... just had a déja vu, wait, I´ll look in the kitchen for that! Coffee, please?

eileeninmd said...

Cute post and photos. We have a few groundhogs living in our backyard. On Feb 2nd we had a heavy freezing rain and I did not see our groundhog make an appearance. LOL, I am not one to believe that a Groundhog can predict the weather for the next 6 weeks. The parade in Lima looks beautiful. I am hoping to get a vaccine soon. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a great weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

Shiju Sugunan said...

Interesting post!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Everyone is ready for Spring! Neat photos ...I've never watched Groundhog Day! lol

NatureFootstep said...

the Groundhog looks cute.
I have visited Lima many years ago now, didn´t see much of the city as I was on a roundtour trip. But I like the countries culture.

Rain said...

Well Mae, I saw my shadow on February 2nd so that tells me I don't need to listen to the groundhogs lol...I've never in my life seen an early spring where I live!! :) In my ancestry and spiritual belief, February 2nd is Imbolc, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It's a time to celebrate light, so we light candles, weather permitting a bonfire outside and start planning for the upcoming gardening season! :)