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Posts Tagged ‘Celebrations’

Groundhog Day

I come from a very strange family. For example: we have watched the movie Groundhog’s Day each year on Groundhog’s day until I moved out. (Technically my parents still do, but I no longer do.) If you’ve not seen the movie, Bill Murray’s character is stuck reliving the same day, Groundhog’s Day, over and over again. He can’t die; he can’t leave the town he’s stuck in; he cannot do anything but live out Groundhog’s Day until he gets it right. The fact that we watch this film every year without fail adds some special irony to the occasion.

However, I started to wonder, how did Groundhog Day begin? It is a rather odd superstition when you think about it. So, I did a little research.

Groundhog

Cute, yes?

There is a lot of adorable information about the Groundhog’s Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on the official site. There is information such as how long Punxsutawney Phil has been making his predictions: this is his 126th year officiating officially; in what language Phil makes his prediction: Groundhogese; and when the first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob was made: February 2nd, 1886. “The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day.” Apparently there are several poems associated with Candlemas Day and the weather. All of them are a tiny bit different, but they all go something like this Scottish couplet:

“If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,

There’ll be twa (two) winters in a year.”

The celebration of Candlemas Day, and therefore Groundhog Day, is quite possiblly also aligned with the pagan holiday Imbolc, a celebration of the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring equinox.

If you’re interested: Candlemas Day is a Catholic festival of sorts. There’s a lot of interesting religious jazz involved, but let me distill the whole thing a bit: Candlemas Day celebrates the day when Mary would have been cleansed from birthing a boy, and would have brought little baby Jesus into the Temple in Jerusalem to offer an animal sacrifice. There’s also a blessing of candles which takes place during the ceremony and a procession, too.

Supposedly, it’s the Germans who attached an animal to Candlemas. If it is sunny outside on Candlemas Day, then the hedgehog would see his shadow and therefore another winter (or another six weeks) came. Germans were the predominant settlers of Pennsylvania, and they replaced the hedgehog with the Groundhog. Ta da! A bizarre tradition is born!

That’s all good and well, but I don’t much care for cold myself. In fact, I’m a self-proclaimed wimp when it comes to cold. (Seriously, just ask Sapphire or Indigo. It would take me almost 150% longer to bundle for cold weather than either of them.) I’d really prefer it if some old woodchuck isn’t in charge of my comfort.

This year, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter. I must say, I’m not sure if I believe the little marmot. It already feels like spring where I am, and has for a couple of weeks now. Oh well. It’s still a fun tradition.

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RSVPeeved

I’m still slogging my way through American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee* and coincidentally, I started planning my birthday around the same time I read a chapter about Gypsy Rose Lee’s fabulous parties.  Not only do I wish people flocked to my parties like they did to Gypsy’s, I wish people still followed proper RSVP etiquette.  Although I’d prefer people come to my parties because they like me, not the “idea” of me…but anyway…

Darn you Facebook and your ability to change the entire thought process of a generation!

As you probably guessed, I’m speaking of the “Maybe” option in Facebook invites.  I suppose if I really wanted to be proper, I wouldn’t use Facebook to send out invites for events, but it’s really the easiest way today.  Especially since all (but one) of my friends has Facebook.  I no longer have to make dozens of phone calls, track down everyone’s emails or have to write out actual invitations.  I don’t have that kind of time (or money)!

Perhaps the informality of Facebook makes the “Maybe” option okay, and I will admit I’ve used it a few times (I really try not to anymore), but lately it’s driving me batty.  Sure, it’s coming up on the end of the semester and most of my friends are still in grad school–they probably don’t know if they can get all their work done.  I understand that.  It’s the people who continually use “Maybe” as their go-to option who started this tirade.  Am I not that important to you?  Are you just waiting for something better to come along?

It makes me question our friendship and wonder if you don’t like me.  Granted I probably care far too much about what other people think, but that’s the truth.  And, it’s rude.  I know this isn’t a wedding or anything really important, but it would be nice to know if I need to make dinner reservations.

I love technology–I own a laptop, a kindle and an iPhone.  I regularly use Facebook and Twitter.  Yet I hate how these technological devices and platforms, which are supposed to connect people, oftentimes separates them.  Informal tweets and posts now take the place of conversation and along the way previously accepted etiquette fell to the wayside.

There was no “Maybe” option in Jane Austen’s time.  No one RSVP’d  “Maybe” to one Gypsy Rose Lee’s parties.  “Maybe” wasn’t even an option on my 10th birthday party.  Why is there one now?

*I don’t mean to imply that this a boring book.  It’s just really long and while it’s fascinating it’s not exactly gripping.

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In honor of Valentine’s Day this month, I will be bringing you a full week of romance, starting Monday. Get your fine wine, chocolates, sappy movies, and Necco Sweethearts ready, because I’m coming at you with some L-O-V-E.

The Kiss, Francesco Hayez 1859

The Kiss, Francesco Hayez, 1859

Disclaimer: Usually, I’m a bit cynical about this cupid and pink heart infested holiday, but in an effort to boost my positive karma, I’m going to dive in with enthusiasm and bring you seven days of Valentine’s Day inspired book recommendations, historical tidbits, share with you my favorite chocolate confections, and more.

Usually, this holiday is reserved for couples, and thus has always felt exclusionary to me, but in the interest of making Valentine’s Day more “single-friendly,” here are some words of wisdom that I will leave you with in an effort to make this holiday a bit more meaningful and tolerable: Love isn’t just between a man and a woman and isn’t just romantic. So maybe this year you can wear red and buy a box of chocolate because you are celebrating love in all of its forms: platonic love for your friends, familial love for your parents and siblings, canine love for your furry friends (I’m looking at you Cornflower), love for your significant other, or Eros. I am going to think about the holiday as one that doesn’t discriminate like some of our states’ marriage laws; candied hearts and flowers are for everyone, no matter what kind of love you have, celebrate, or believe in.

In this spirit, I hereby launch my week-long dedication. Look out Aphrodite, because here I come!

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