I’m such a gringa sometimes. Cachando Chile friend Marmo (of Marmota & Marmotita fame) reminded me that today was Groundhog Day (which would be Día de Marmotas, if such a thing existed here), so of COURSE I went to the official Punxsatawney Phil web site and tuned in to the live streaming of Gobbler’s Knob’s biggest event of the year. For those who don’t know (US gringos, forgive them, despite 125 years of history, not all the world is aware of Phil’s utmost importance!)
Read on to learn more about the groundhog that made Punxsatawney famous…AND for a suggestion to add a bit of much-needed national silliness to Chile’s annual calendar…
I have no idea how the weather-predicting groundhog phenomenon came about, but the basic idea is that if he (the great Phil) comes out of his hole and sees his shadow on the morning of Feb 2, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If not, there’s an early spring on the horizon. People have been gathering in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania for 125 years to see what Phil has to say, and I must say I was amazed to tune in at 6:00 AM east coast time to see hundreds of people in 0ºC weather dressed in silly (but warm) costumes with top hats & tails, groundhog gear and hopeful faces, waiting for the 7:25 AM pronouncement. Music, dancing, a basketball-spinning Harlem Globetrotter, the national anthem, and fireworks–yes, fireworks, at 6:30 AM!!
Then at the appointed hour (7:25 AM), Phil’s official court arrived, Phil was gently taken from his burrow, whereupon he whispered his verdict to Association Prez Bill Deeley, and the proclamation was read aloud:
Here Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye
Groundhog Day, February 2, 2011
Punxsutawney Phil was raised from his burrow
By the call of President Bill Deeley.
He greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths.
After casting an inquisitive eye towards thousands of his faithful followers,
He proclaimed that the Steelers are going to the Super Bowl!
Back to the business at hand…
He surveyed his surroundings carefully and found that there was no shadow around,
So, an early spring it will be.
Then off they all went–joyfully on their way to official pancake breakfasts before heading to work, relieved that this long, hard winter will soon be over.
This is all so very, very gringo… and me, the big wuss, gets all teary-eyed and wistful about these silly traditions, and wonder why we don’t have similar sillinesses in Chile. So I tweeted for suggestions for a Chilean version that would predict how much rain we get in winter. Someone (@SouthAmericaME to be exact) suggested a guarén. A rat! Ick! And then it hit me.
I propose a huemul, Chile’s elusive little deer (find out more in this past post on the Huemul). In fact, it could be the “Huemul de Huelmo” (Punta Huelmo, to be exact), who could poke her little head out of the bushes at some point and let us all know if we need new boots for a rainy winter or should be filling up our cisterns for a pending drought.
And then we could all invent some silly rituals (because frankly, I think we could use some more silly rituals around here) and excuses for having a good time “just because.”
What d’ya think… any takers out there?