How to Celebrate Groundhog Day

Well, it’s Groundhog Day. Again. And that must mean we’re up here at Gobbler’s Knob waiting for the forecast from the world’s most-famous groundhog weatherman, Punxsutawney Phil, who’s just about to tell us how much more winter we can expect.

Not really, of course. That’s just what Phil Connors says in the movie, and Punxsutawney Phil already made his prediction this morning (early spring). But what you really want to know is “how do I properly celebrate such a fantastic holiday?” (And also, “Why isn’t it a national holiday already?” But some questions just don’t have answers, regardless of how spot on they are.)

Speaking as someone who’s celebrated the day every year for the past . . . 23 years (give or take), I think I can give some authoritative answers.

Step one: Wake up and watch the livestream of Phil making his prediction. (We’re assuming here you’re not able to actually make a pilgrimage yourself, since it’s not a national holiday yet.) Nothing is more groundhoggy than being up at 7am to watch top hat wearing members of the Inner Circle gather to worship a rat. Well, unless you’d rather sleep in and skip the livestream. That’s a very groundhoggy thing to do, too. Just look at Phil when they take him out each year. You just know he’d rather be sleeping. One way or another, you definitely should wake up at some point on Groundhog Day. That’s an essential part to celebrating, because if you don’t wake up, something has gone horribly wrong.

Step two: Spend the day spreading groundhog cheer to everyone you meet. Greet them all with a warm smile and a comment about early springs and long winters. Maybe even bring some treats to share. Groundhogs love treats. Then again, groundhogs also want people to get lost and leave them alone, so you can also just go around all day being a curmudgeon and ignoring everyone else. Either way, you’ll be 100% in the spirit of this most joyous of days.

Step three: Make sure your house is decorated to the gills with groundhog-themed things. Brown streamers. Brown balloons. Stuffed animal groundhogs. Signs that say “Don’t Mess With Me, Pork Chop.” I mean, every serious groundhog aficionado has all of these things, right? (Or is it just me?) Regardless, if you take the holiday seriously, you need them too. Except if you decide that you don’t need them, because what sort of a crazy groundhog would go around decorating their home when they could just chillax and . . . not? So refusing to put up decorations is also perfectly acceptable.

Step four: Have a Groundhog Day party. Invite 50 or more people, ideally way more people than you’ve ever invited to a Christmas party at your house. Have them all bring groundhog-themed treats. (Yes, this means you’ll have some who inevitably bring groundhog meatballs each year, but that’s just part of the wonder of the festivities.) Have them all participate in Groundhog Games of Skill, which can consist of drawing groundhogs with your eyes closed (or with your feet), answering groundhog quizzes, making groundhogs out of potatoes, or anything else. (Fact: the best way to get more people to celebrate Groundhog Day is to persuade them that they should come to your party. And fact #2: they almost definitely won’t have anything better to do on February 2nd. (Especially now that they’ve moved the Super Bowl to the following weekend, obviously out of respect for this age-old marmot tradition.)) Then again, you can also celebrate by yourself, or with just a few friends. Groundhogs aren’t exactly party animals, you know.

Step five: Watch the movie at the end of the day. You must do this every. single. year. Unless you’d rather not. I have yet to see a single groundhog watching the movie with me, and I’ve seen the film over 25 times.

What does this all boil down to? It boils down to the fact that Groundhog Day is the best day of the year, because there’s no wrong way to do it. It’s an excuse to do whatever you want. You can even ignore the day completely, if you so choose. No one’s going to yell at you for forgetting the spirit of the season. There will be no culture wars if you choose to wish someone a Happy Whistlepig Day, instead. I guarantee no one’s going to be crestfallen if you forget to get them a present.

So whatever you’re doing today, or however you’re celebrating (or not celebrating), I hope you have a wonderful day.

When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.

Happy Groundhog Day, woodchuck chuckers!

Leave a comment