Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

February 1, 2014

Groundhog Day may not be relative to East Texas area

Donald M. Molloy
Jacksonville Daily Progress

CHEROKEE COUNTY —  “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait a minute it will change.” There is a good chance there is not a Texan alive who has not heard this cliché. It is a good ice breaker when starting a conversation.                     

 However, there is a place where the weather is all they talk about. As a matter of fact, the conversation has extended all around the world. The place is Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania ... and the topic is Groundhog Day, observed on Feb. 2.

 The Delaware Indians believed they were derived from animals of Mother Earth and centuries later emerged into hunters and lived as men, according to the website  www.stormfax.com/ghogday.htm

The name Woodchuck comes from the Indian legend of “Wojak the Ground hog,” considered  to be their ancestral grandfather.

When the German settlers arrived in the early 1700s they brought the tradition of “Candlemas Day.” It was a day that was celebrated between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

The superstition holds that if the weather was fair, the second half of winter would be stormy and cold. If the sun came out on February 2, the halfway point between winter and spring, it meant six more weeks

of winter.

The official Groundhog day in Pennsylvania began on Feb. 2, 1886, according to the website. The Groundhog was given the name, “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and weather Prophet Extraordinary.”

Since its conception in 1886 through the year 2013, there have been 100 shadows, 17 no shadows and nine no reports.  

The actual location of “Punxsutawney Phil” is at Gobbler’s Knob just outside of Punxsutawney about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.   

In Quarryville, Pennsylvania the people at the Slumbering Lodge combine Groundhog Day with Fersommling, a festival, of food, speeches, plays and skits for entertainment.

As part of tradition, the speech has to be given in the Dutch dialect. Any other language will be fined.

Groundhog Day is a merger of the German and Dutch cultures.

According to http://www.americantowns.com/tx/houston/events/groundhog-day  Houston has its own version of Groundhog Day and being in Texas where we do things

bigger, we have “Alamo,” a longhorn bull who helps predict the weather.

Aaron Low, from the Texas A&M agricultural department in Cherokee county said, “Cows may have an intuitive instinct like many other animals but, there is no scientific proof that cows can predict the weather.”

So, whether it is a Longhorn bull in Texas or a Groundhog in Pennsylvania, it never hurts to carry a light jacket or a heavy coat because no one really can tell which way the wind will blow.

Groundhog Day in Jacksonville is predicted to include a chance of rain with a high of 45 and a low of 34 degrees, according to www.accuweather.com.

Molloy is a published writer who lives in Chandler, Texas.