Who is the groundhog?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Mark Koenig
  • 934th Airlift Wing command chief
Here we are, coming close to the time of the year that is between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, the time when warmer weather is so close, and yet so far away - cabin fever time. If we looked for the midpoint between these two junctures, it would be about February 2 according to the calendar. It would be Groundhog Day.

When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought the celebration of Candlemas with them. German tradition holds that if the sun comes out on Candlemas, the hedgehog will see its shadow and six more weeks of winter will follow. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will come early. By the 1800s, German settlements in Pennsylvania continued the tradition but used a groundhog rather than a hedgehog. History reflects the first official Groundhog Day was recorded February 2, 1887, at Gobbler's Knob, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Today, Groundhog Day is widely observed as the only holiday that focuses squarely on weather. It's one of eight major junctures of the year's passing and occurs at a time when weather occupies our thoughts more thoroughly than at any other time of the year. A time when we've survived the most difficult ascent from the pit of winter's darkest days, and now stand at the half way point to the long awaited spring equinox. The future looks bright as we survey it from our own groundhog burrows (homes) and nothing can overshadow our optimism.

More than any other holiday, Groundhog Day is the "looking-ahead" holiday. A holiday of transition. We're not so much celebrating the day at hand as we are a day that is on our horizon. Remember, it isn't the groundhog who's looking into the future on Groundhog Day, it is us.

Whether it arrives early, late or on-time, this is one prediction that inevitably will prove true: warm weather will arrive and with it, the promise of another busy summer at the 934th Airlift Wing. Be ready.