The Immense Stupidity of Groundhog Day

As my mother correctly notes each year, there are always approximately six more weeks of winter from Groundhog Day.

Is there a dumber American tradition than Groundhog Day? I submit to you that there is not. Readers of this site will know that I am a fan of all manner of nonsense, but I just can’t get into this. “Groundhog Day”, the movie? A fun flick. Groundhog Day, the “holiday”? Vacuous nonsense.

The problem, as I see it, is that there’s simply nothing there. They pull out poor Punxsutawney Phil, and then…a person announces whether the rodent saw his shadow or not. The groundhog doesn’t actually react in any visible way. The whole thing isn’t even as goofy as “Is the groundhog awake or not?”. No, the weather-predicting woodchuck is utterly unnecessary to the proceedings. They could just flip a coin. Or skip the whole thing entirely.

In the midst of confronting the vast and moronic reach that Groundhog Day has attained, I learned quite a lot from a CNN article detailing they day’s history. For instance, did you know that once upon a time, they ate Punxsutawney Phil after he made his guess?

Before he was a celebrity, though, he was lunch. In a terrible twist, the earliest Groundhog Days of the 19th century involved devouring poor Phil after he made his prediction. The year 1887 was the year of the “Groundhog Picnic,” Yoder said. Pennsylvania historian Christopher Davis wrote that locals cooked up groundhog as a “special local dish,” served at the Punxsutawney Elk Lodge, whose members would go on to create the town’s Groundhog Club. Diners were “pleased at how tender” the poor groundhog’s meat was, Davis said.

Cheese and crackers! Really though, I think I respect this more. Oh, sure, it’s awful. But it feels somehow more honest too. Devour your gods.

And yet, in defiance of both all logic as well as the preceding text, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club claims there’s only been one Punxsutawney Phil in history:

How many “Phils” have there been over the years?
There has only been one Punxsutawney Phil. He has been making predictions since 1886! Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking the “elixir of life,” a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life.

Even if it only works on groundhogs, that “elixir of life” seems a lot more impressive than the flimsy record of forecasting. Also, how about sharing? If it adds seven years to his life, Phil doesn’t need a sip every year.

Does Phil have a wife?
Yes, her name is Phyliss. She doesn’t receive the Elixir of Life so she will not live forever like Phil.

What the hell? Why, pray tell, can’t Phyliss have some elixir too? Worse is the fact that Phil’s poor wife/wives have been saddled with a matching name. Just as I would never feel quite right dating someone named “Paula” or “Paulette”, Phil and Phyliss should just be friends, or even steer clear of one another completely.

Remarkably, Canada recently found a way to make things even dumber. Though I believe the world needs exactly zero groundhogs masquerading as meteorologists, it seems we must come to terms with a single such rodent. However, Punxsutawney Phil certainly needs no imitators, a fact it would behoove the Quebeckers to souviens. Their failure to do so led to a bizarre occurrence yesterday, when they turned to a group of schoolchildren to get a prediction about winter. Why? Well it seems that their knockoff prognosticator, “Fred La Marmotte”, showed up to his one-day-a-year job dead.