Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Annotations to Groundhog Day

Yesterday, the United States celebrated Groundhog Day. Punxutawney Phil saw his shadow. Winter will continue six more weeks.

Groundhog Day is an adaption of a tradition that German immigrants brought to Pennsylvania. The species used in Germany is a nocturnal relative of the squirrels called Siebenschläfer (Glis glis). Literally translated, Siebenschläfer means "sleeping seven". The animals hibernate for roughly seven months. They like to nest in the attic of our homes where they shuffle around all night, disrupting our well-deserved sleep. They bear no resemblance with groundhogs.

Germans celebrate Siebenschläfer Day on June 27. Legend has it that on that day seven young Christians emerged from a cave in Asia minor after sleeping for 195 year. They had been walled in alive during the persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Decius. Weather on Siebenschläfer Day is supposed to forecast weather for seven weeks to come. Depending on local customs, predictions vary from more of the same to the contrary.

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