Groundhog Day has come and gone by the time you are reading this article; but, what an odd “holiday” we celebrate to try and escape some nasty winter weather. We all hope that the groundhog brings us good luck when in fact, he really has nothing to do with what actually happens!
The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on Feb. 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters – known collectively as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club – on the idea. The men trekked to a site called Gobbler’s Knob, where the inaugural groundhog became the bearer of bad news when he saw his shadow. Where did this tradition come from? After some searching, I found out that this tradition comes from our ancestors who emigrated from Germany. In certain parts of Europe, Christians believed that a sunny Candlemas meant another 40 days of cold and snow. Germans developed their own take on the legend, pronouncing the day sunny only if badgers and other animals glimpsed their own shadows. When German immigrants settled Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought the custom with them, choosing the native groundhog as the annual forecaster.
Here are five facts you probably didn’t know about Groundhog Day: 1. Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow 97 times, has not seen it 15 times, and nine years are unaccounted for completely; 2. The National Climatic Data Center reportedly stated that Phil’s predictions have been correct 39 percent of the time. This number is in conflict with Phil’s club, which states he’s been right 100 percent of the time; 3. According to the funny website groundhog.org, there’s a legend that during Prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn’t allowed a drink; 4. In the years following the release of “Groundhog Day,” a 1993 film starring Bill Murray, crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill in Punxsutawney where the ceremony takes place; and 5. Though groundhogs typically live only six to eight years, Groundhog Day lore suggests that Phil drinks a magic elixir every summer, which gives him seven more years of life.
Eight years ago this month I started my freelance writing career penning this column, “Arcanum, News” for The Daily Advocate. I have enjoyed getting to know you and writing your family stories and/or announcements. Some weeks there are more things to include in the column than my allotted space and other weeks there are days of worry wondering what will I write about this week. If your club, group, organization has a printed or online newsletter I would love to be added to your mailing list; this will help keep me informed and provide more readership about the ongoing events in our hometown. As always, you can call or email me with updates of announcements you would like included in the paper. Lastly, I would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to send me or give me a thank you or word of encouragement concerning this column; it makes my day to know that I have so many appreciative readers out there.
Coming, Friday, March 15 – the Arcanum Garden Club is bringing back their Purse Poppy Bingo! The Grand Prize is a pearl, white-pebbled tote by Coach valued at $350. Tickets will be available starting Feb. 15 at The Rose Post or from a member of the Garden Club – more details to come next week!
Coming March 7 to the Arcanum Wayne Trail Historical Society will be the Darke County Center of the Arts Coffee House series with Lee Murdock. Lee is a talented instrumentalist on six and 12 string guitars and maintains ragtime, Irish, blues and folk styles with a flair for storytelling. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at DCCA, Fourman’s Variety Store and at the door.
AWTHS will host an Open House on the same day as the Arcanum Trojan Homecoming (formerly Alumni Banquet) April 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. AWTHS open to AHS alumni and the public for the Arcanum Homecoming weekend. Welcome classes of 1944, 1969 and 1994. Visit to tour the historical building, displays and school memorabilia; they will be open to the public as well for research and tours.
The AHS Athletic Hall of Fame will be held this Saturday, Feb. 9 due to a prior cancellation because of bad weather. The HOF induction will take place at 5 p.m. with the inductees being recognized between the JV and varsity contests. This year’s inductees are Richard O’Dell, Class of 1957, Shawn Hein, Class of 1988, and John Stephens, Class of 1994.
“February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March” – J. R. Stockton
“February makes a bridge, and March breaks it” -George Herbert
Vickie Rhodehamel is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her Arcanum community column. She can be reached by calling 937-692-6188, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.