If I told you once . . .

I celebrate nor acknowledge no rodent . . . punx-phil_wide-f5538c38d419577b08da8bb8da820ee533859c04-s800-c85

However, the origin of Groundhog Day in 1887 is so ridiculous I’ll make an exception just to poke fun.

Because what is funnier than saying Gobbler’s Knob in

Punxsutawney, Pa? Why, saying it three times fast:

Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa.

Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa.

Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa.

OK, paraphrasing from groundhog.org (I kid you not): so back before groundhogs were things, like, way way back, clergy evidently would distribute blessed candles around the Christian countryside during the winter. This came on Candlemas Day. Got me?

Over time and recitations of various Scottish poems and songs and multiple convolutions about Candlemas Day representing a prediction of further winter, the Germans decided that if the sun was out on Candlemas Day, their hedgehogs (!) would cast a shadow, which naturally meant a second winter was nigh.

Germans later flocked to Pennsylvania, which was lousy with groundhogs. Close enough. They decided that if such a “sensible” beast as the groundhog saw its shadow on Feb. 2, boom, strap in for six more weeks.

This of course led to the only reasonable next step: a newspaper editor and groundhog hunter in the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (!) ruled in all the power and glory vested in him that Punxsutawney’s favored groundhog, Phil, hanging out there at Gobbler’s Knob, was God’s and the nation’s foremost weather-reading groundhog, oy vey.

The Phil in actual live use today saw no shadow. Spring will begin March 20!


  •  Here’s a trivia question you probably know: In “Groundhog Day,” what was the song that played every morning at 6 a.m. on Bill Murray’s ultimately much-abused alarm clock?
  • Fair warning: we get Groundhog Day blessedly out of the way, here comes National Signing Day on Wednesday. It’s the day when every over-the-top thing about big-time college football is on display in all its cynicism, self-importance and pretension. The day’s drama consists of pampered high-school recruits “flipping” or following through on their previous spoken commitments to mega-salaried coaches whose futures largely depend on selling as many of the pampered man-children on themselves and the university that currently employs them. Each coach then holds a press conference to declare themselves crazy with delight at the degree of unbelievable talent they just bagged. The exhibition is not unlike, it turns out, the brilliant tradition of Groundhog Day, wouldn’t you know.
  • “I Got You, Babe,” by Sonny & Cher. That’s the song. But you knew that.