It’s February 2nd and once again the hamlet of Punxsutawney, PA has announced for the 97th time since 1887 that the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, the "seer of seers and prognosticator of prognosticators," has seen his shadow, which according to legend means we can expect six more weeks of winter. Though we’ve had a pretty mild winter here in Southern California, this is bad news for most of the country, sick and tired of being buried in snow, sleet and rain.
This morning Punxsutawney Phil's forecast was announced in front of some 13,000 revelers gathering at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, where many were dressed in black and gold to celebrate yesterdays Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl victory.
February 2nd is the Christian holiday of Candlemas; the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, when a 40 day old Jesus was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem to complete Mary's ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn. In German tradition if a hibernating critter casts its shadow on Candlemas, winter will last six more weeks. And accordingly if no shadow is seen, spring will come early.
This year, however, there was a little drama. Punxsutawney Phil’s counterpart and co-conspirator, New York City’s groundhog named Charles G. Hogg saw things differently; he didn't see his shadow. And he also bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the ceremony. Drawing blood from the eighth-richest American billionaire, Bloomberg was told there was no risk of rabies as the 2-year-old groundhog was born and raised in captivity and has had no contact with other animals. I smell conspiracy! But what did Bloomberg expect, we’d forget he left the Democratic Party to run as a Republican for NYC mayor and then try and extend the term limits law by running for a third time!?