Here in the northeast, it seems certain that the winter will never, ever end. We're in the midst of yet another winter storm, which is scheduled to drop somewhere between two and 78 inches of snow, ice and whatever else nature wants to throw at us over the next few days. But there may be some salvation on the horizon, especially if you believe in the mythical powers of subterranean rodents. Wednesday (February 2) is Groundhog Day, as strange a holiday as there is in the United States (and Canada).
As the legend goes, a groundhog will emerge from the ground tomorrow, and if he sees his shadow, that means we're due for six more weeks of winter. Though there are smaller Groundhog Day celebrations in other places, the bulk of the action takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where as many as 40,000 people gather to celebrate their hometown groundhog (commonly known as Punxsutawney Phil). (Also: Did you know that there are other notable groundhogs? They each have a delightful name, like Smith Lake Jake, Staten Island Chuck, General Beauregard Lee, Shubenacadie Sam and Wiarton Willie.)
Of course, the tradition of using a groundhog to predict the seasons predates modern meteorological study, but it's still sort of fun. It has also had quite an impact on pop culture, most notably with the classic 1993 film "Groundhog Day," which featured one of the greatest Bill Murray performances of all time and also took place in Punxsutawney. There are also a bunch of songs devoted to the film concept of Groundhog Day (wherein the same things keep happening all the time), including a killer song by Canadian hardcore punk band D.O.A. and this mind-bending jam courtesy of Mayday!