The Germans used to believe that on Feb. 2, the Christian holiday of Candlemas — tell me you didn't forget to pre-order your Candlemas roast? — any hibernating animal who saw his shadow could personally extend global winter for six months. Since this superstitution wasn't already fucking insane enough, some kooks (or, more likely, savvy tourism boosters) in rural Pennsylvannia began dressing up in top hats, tuxedos and bow ties and calling themselves the Inner Circle. They declared that their groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, was the One True Weather Rodent, and that only they, the Inner Circle, could decipher his behavior, which happens to translate directly into rhyming verse, like this year's forecast: "Many shadows do I see: six more weeks of winter it must be."
Except, as it turns out, the competing, free-range, organic, humanely handled Groundhogs in other states ("they pick them up by the neck and hold them up.... ours is in the ground") are constantly contradicting Phil even as they spread the pestilence of weather-beast ceremonialism created by Phil and his handlers.
Phil's self-serving exhibitionist meteorological propaganda is sufficiently absurd that even weather men — god damned weather men — are up in arms about his accuracy (roughly 39 percent on a yea or nea call). "Punxsutawney Phil is a punk when it comes to weather forecasting," Chicago meteorologist Tim McGill wrote earlier this week. "Weathermen everywhere shun the hoopla surrounding February 2nd. We are expected to act as the groundhog's spokesperson and explain... archaic shenanigans."
The one bright spot is that Feb. 2 encourages everyone to dust off what is actually a pretty good Bill Murray movie, which after 19 years has not yet gotten old. Hopefully it never does. It would be a shame if Groundhog Day ruined Groundhog Day.