Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day History and the Writer

Kim Watters on Groundhog Day.

(Adapted from "Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992" by Bill Anderson) Credit given to The Official Punxsutawney Groundhog Club

Punxsutawney Phil

European Roots

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.

If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

As a writer I can relate to poor Phil.

We hibernate as we write our manuscripts, venturing out only when we have to to eat or do laundry or other tasks that keep the household running. We slave away in our dark, little caves, churning out page after page of wonderful prose destined to meet with editorial and reader approval.

And then comes the revision letter.

If it's an easy one, (no shadow), we can emerge from our caves and enjoy life a bit more as the winter season has passed.

If it's a complicated one, (shadow), we scurry back into our caves for a few more weeks of a writing frenzy until we can emerge again and enjoy the Spring.

As for this writer, I just emerged from my cave for a bit, waiting for my editor's reply.

Happy Groundhog Day everyone. And for those in the East, I certainly hope for a cloudy day.

1 comment:

catslady said...

Love the analogy lol. Hope you get to stay out of your "cave" for a while!

I imagine if you could find a real groundhog in his own den, you may have a chance at a real prediction lol.