The Groundhog Needed a Better AgentPosted: February 2, 2017
Today is that festive day known as Groundhog Day. Not a holiday, nor a real celebration, yet everyone knows when and what it is. I bet if I asked you the actual date of Veterans Day you would not be able to tell it to me. It is quite a miracle that Groundhog Day is so well known.
Groundhog Day was started in the 1880’s by Pennsylvania Germans following some pagan folk lore about predicting weather. Scholars of such thing say it was more likely a badger or a bear who emerged from some hibernating place in the old country to predict spring. I think it is more likely they came out to go to the bathroom, get a snack and go back to sleep.
Regardless, the Groundhog part of the equation is a pure PR stunt made up by the people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a way to get people to come to their “not much going on” town. They probably cold not find a badger and certainly did not want to wake a sleeping bear so they drafted the unsuspecting Groundhog, a rodent they could pick up and photograph.
The poor Groundhog of 1887 had no idea the reputation he was tying his wagon to by becoming the spokes animal for weather predictions. The idea that if a Groundhog sees or does not see his shadow is absurd. For all we know the Groundhog might not see shadows at all. They are not animals know for spectacular eyesight. Best we can do is tell if we see his shadow or not.
The worst thing you can be is a weather predictor prior to modern day climate science. One hundred and fifty years ago until really recently the Groundhog had a fifty-fifty chance of getting the prediction wrong. So the Groundhog was being set up to fail.
The third thing against the success of this day is that the groundhog is not a cute cuddly furry animal like a rabbit. It is a prickly, pointy nosed rodent. Hard to be a good salesman for anything with those beady eyes. And don’t get me started on the need for a manicure.
The Groundhog needed better representation when he hooked his wagon to the non holiday day. The least the Groundhog could have done was demand some fabulous food also be associated with this day. Cupid got chocolate, the Easter bunny got candy and eggs, the turkey got, oh turkey, not a good example, but no food for the Groundhog.
We might like the Groundhog better if on this second day of February we were all given an excuse to break our boring winter diet because in celebration of the Groundhog we ate some yummy German coffee cake. I am shocked the enterprising Germans in Pennsylvania did not promote Groundhog soft pretzels or something else they could sell. Perhaps this is why they were the Germans who were run out of the country. They were obviously not the smart ones.
They did not pick a cute enough animal, they had no food and they made it a ceremony that happens at sunrise, not a good party time of day.
As far as I am concerned Groundhog Day is an example of a failed PR campaign. Yes we know what it is, but we don’t care what the outcome is and we can certainly live without it. “You are as slow as Groundhog Day,” said no one ever.