27 Comments

  1. The groundhog is having an affair, and hopes that a hasty application of black paint will make his significant other believe his tasty little whistlepig trollop is merely his shadow, because groundhogs have shadows and, um….

  2. Well, if a groundhog sees his shadow, he’ll go back into his hole — that how we know he’s seen his shadow. So if the wife sees her husband’s shadow (or a facsimile), she’ll go into a hole — no, that doesn’t make sense…

  3. I’ve never heard it any way other than winter will be over sooner if the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow. It actually bears some foundation in reality for northern Europe. Basically, if there’s a high pressure system over northern Europe about this time (meaning clear weather), it generally gives way to a somewhat longer lasting low that will bring arctic air and often snow. But a low pressure system about now (meaning clouds at the very least) often gives way to a high that will bring milder weather into mid-March and an onset of spring.

  4. It’s a “don’t think too hard about it” cartoon. 1) We are familiar with trope of a spouse coming home unexpected and the the adulterer hastily hiding the lover 2) It’s a human trait so it’d be funny to see it translated to non-humans and acknowledge and put into non-human analoguous terms 3) Groundhog’s day is about seeing shadows, so the groundhog equivalent of hiding in a closet would be pretending to be a shadow.

    Um, I hear you saying, how exactly does that work? Are shadows supposed to be invisible to groundhogs? Does a groundhog painted black actually *look* like a shadow? etc.

    Well…. I *did* say don’t think too hard about it.

  5. I always heard it as, If the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six weeks more of winter. If he doesn’t, there will be 42 days more.

    Or was that just my dad’s Dad Joke?

  6. This is another of an all-too-common meme: “something about x, which is topical, so this must be funny”. Only it usually isn’t.

  7. This is a technical question, and not really related to the site itself. LarK’s comment scrape doesn’t seem to have any of the ones from this post, at least for me. Are they showing for anyone else? For reference, the link is:

    http://scrape.nowis.com/CIDU/

  8. Ah, you’re on to me. I’ve been working to resolve this, and just finished. The problem is that Bill’s title for this thread exceeded 255 characters, which was the limit in my database for titles. I’ve upped the length to the maximum 333 (if I want it keyed (which I do), because with a key you’re limited to 1000 bytes, and with utf-8 each character can be up to 3 bytes long, so, for those who want really technical explanations, I’d always assumed WordPress was enforcing similar limits, but maybe this new site has hyper-expanded limits, or maybe Bill just never ever tried to post such a long title before…)

    Anyway, it’s catching them now, but I lost the first couple of comments…

  9. The (alleged) reason it makes a difference if the groundhog sees “his” shadow is because if he DOES see it, it scares him. Now, as to why a groundhog being out in the open or in hiding somewhere would affect weather patterns, well, I got nothin’ for that one.

    The idea (I guess) that this joke is supposed to work is because if the wife sees the side-piece directly, well, it’s going to get stormy in the immediate vicinity. But if the wife sees a shadow, she’ll be too frightened by it to examine it closely, thus avoiding the storm (for now).

  10. Yeah, but I didn’t know what the problem was till I looked at it, at which point it’s easier for me to change my field definitions than to write you and hope you’ll truncate your title; but you’re on notice now: no titles longer than 333 characters! 😉 (And again, I wonder if WordPress would let you…)

  11. “If Candlemas dawns fine and clear / there’ll be ‘twa winters in the year.” If it’s clear enough for a badger (in Europe) or groundhog (which I somehow never knew was the same animal as a woodchuck) to see its shadow on February 2, then a second winter will follow. February 2 is the holiday Imbolc, sacred to the Gaelic goddess Bridgid, who was absorbed by the Christian Church as St Bridgit, and Candlemas was instituted to supersede it; it’s forty days after Christmas, which, according to Jewish tradition, is when a mother would go to the mikveh after the birth of a son.

    All of this means that groundhogs paint their girlfriends black because … um … shadows?

  12. I always thought of Groundhog day as a bit of a joke. If he sees his shadow then 6 more weeks of winter. Otherwise Spring will be here in 6 weeks. Same amount of time.

    BTW, First day of Spring is March 20th this year.

  13. As Ian points out, it’s not so much the shadow as it is there being enough natural light to produce a shadow. What it really comes down to is: if it’s sunny, expect at least one more major winter storm, otherwise things should remain relatively mild until spring.

    Imbolc is a quarter-day, i.e. halfway between solstice and equinox. It’s also roughly when the days start becoming perceptibly longer. The rate of change in the time between sunrise and sunset is beginning to accelerate.

  14. Marshal is correct not just for the current year, but for the foreseeable future (and past). I had always thought that the normal date for the vernal equinox was March 21st(*), but according to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the date is almost always March 20th, and when it isn’t the 20th, then it falls on March 19th (this is for U.S. East Coast time).

    P.S. (*) In honor of the 25th anniversary of “Groundhog Day“, I watched the movie. In the first scene on the stairs, Phil (Bill Murray) cites March 21st, but the USNO reports March 20th for 1993. Ooops.

  15. “Is that a (subtle) political comment (‘storm’)?”

    No. .

    The next U.S. elections of import are a little more than 9 months distant. I have strong opinions on this topic, but Bill politely requests restraint regarding this topic in these fora.

  16. An (honest?) question – for areas for which this is applicable, what would be considered “no more winter” as opposed to “more winter”? No more snow? Trees getting leaves? Something else?

  17. Ian D. Osmond: You never knew a groundhog was the same as a woodchuck? Even though they have the same song? “How much ground could a groundhog grind if a groundhog could grind ground?”

  18. We have here Malverne Mel and Holbrook Hal – one each in 2 different counties. One saw his shadow and the other did not.

    There was a Staten Island Chuck in NYC, but I did not hear about him this year. Then again, the first year of the current mayor’s first term Chuck bit him at the ceremonies.

    The bigger story this year it seems to me is that this year Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday are the same day – will that be limiting dinner out and candy gifts?

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