What the Groundhog Does Not Tell You

It May Seem Silly But It Could be Religious – Or Just Sex

Puxatawney Phil

“Nice view from here!” ~ Phil

Marmot is the real name for large squirrels (of which there are 15 varieties) that include the species better known as groundhog.  Marmots mainly eat greens and many types of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, roots, and flowers.  (Jolly Olde England, eh?)   That may explain why much of the following is extracted from The National Geographic (see link below) and references mainly Great Britain and the Isles off coast.  However, the Murmeltier is widely known across mainland Europe and is celebrated in Germany and all mountainous and rocky regions as well.

Groundhog Day (Feb. 2nd) marks approximately halfway through Winter.  It also marks 40 days past Christmas – those celebrating a male birth – as well as an observance for the Purification of the Virgin and the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.  This year it is a coincidence that it is on a Sunday, which coincides with other things like, say…….the Super Bowl.  It is also the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple as well as the Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.  It’s a holiday for many reasons (or excuses) to celebrate.

**The reported origins of Groundhog Day are various, but the concept is thought to be linked to the Germanic tradition of Candlemas Day. In Europe, however, the animal used was generally a hedgehog or a badger. How it wound up being the groundhog’s responsibility in the United States may have been a bit of a fluke.

“When the Europeans came over here, they didn’t have any hedgehogs or badgers to lay the blame on, so I think the groundhog got it by being here and being a good size,” speculates the Smithsonian’s Thorington. “He became the one to prophesize whether winter would come or not.”

Groundhogs have to know just when to emerge from hibernation to mate so that their offspring will have the best chance of survival.

“Most matings happen in a ten-day period in early March,” says Zervanos. “If [the offspring] are born too late, they can’t get enough weight for winter, and if they’re born too early, the female doesn’t have enough food to feed them.”  In other words, the window of opportunity is very small and the wily woodchuck has to get it just right.

**Source:  Stefan Serucek – National Geographic

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