History Of Groundhog Day Celebration
Based on a five-second woodchuck encounter, the history of Groundhog Day celebration is filled with fact, folklore and fiction. Each year, February 2nd marks the celebration of a humorous holiday which grew out of a mid-19th century attempt to forecast the weather. Legend has it that on the second of February, groundhogs emerge from cozy burrows beneath the ground to see if they can catch a glimpse of their shadow. If the marmot sees its shadow, he scurries back into the burrow to hibernate for another six weeks. But if the shadow eludes the marmot, it stays out and winter is predicted to soon end. While most two-legged weather forecasters would scoff at using fat furry hedge hogs to predict how long winter will last, hundreds of thousands of celebrants in the United States and Canada swear by the practice of groundhog shadow watching.
The history of Groundhog Day celebration was first referenced on February 4, 1841 in Morgantown, Pennsylvania. Apparently, James Morris, a Morgantown storekeeper, penned an account of Groundhog Day predictions, crediting German immigrants with what seemed like a tall tale. Mr. Morris' handwritten diary became part of historical records preserved at the Historical Society of Berks County, located in Reading, Pennsylvania. Nearly 170 years later, Groundhog Day has developed almost a cult following across the United States and throughout Canada. Nearly 20 woodchucks have laid claim to fame by predicting the end or continuation of winter in both countries.
The fact of the matter is that February 2nd comes six weeks prior to the beginning of spring, usually March 21st. The third week in March falls on the spring equinox, the exact moment when the center of the sun aligns with the center of the celestial equator. The effect of the spring equinox is that both day and night are of equal length. Six weeks prior to the spring equinox, winter is nearing an end and the skies are cloudier. As the history of Groundhog Day celebration attests, overcast clouds prevent the groundhog from seeing his shadow. The hedgehog stays out and six weeks later, spring appears, just as the wooly woodchuck had predicted. While some individuals take heed to watching groundhogs to determine weather predictions, God is concerned that men take heed to the spiritual signs that signal the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. "The Pharisees also with the Saducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matthew 16:1-3). We cannot afford to be so caught up in temporal things that we forget to prepare for eternity.
For some, Groundhog Day celebrations and shadow watching are serious business. Usually officiated by a governing board or commissioner to conduct the actual shadow sighting, the day begins with crowds assembling near the groundhog's place of residence. Weeks prior, hedgehog burrows are located and an appropriate name assigned to the central figure in a cast of two. To date, the history of Groundhog Day celebration has failed to reveal an instance where the hairy mammal's shadow was named. However, the weather-predicting marmot usually bears a nickname based on his origins. Punxsutawney Phil was found in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in 2007, preceded by a long line of four-legged weather rodents. Wiarton Willie hailed from Wiarton, Ontario in Canada; General Beaureard Lee, Ph. D., found in Atlanta, Georgia, had the distinction of being named for the famous Confederate general. Staten Island Chuck was called into service in New York City, New York. But, famous hedgehogs are not just males. Malverne, New York produced a groundhog couple, Malverne Mel and Malverne Melissa, to predict whether the Empire State would see another six weeks of frigid temps.
Celebrants of this February 2nd holiday are fond of not only dressing up as groundhogs, but sending weather predictions and greetings to family, friends, business associates, and anyone interested in keeping the tradition alive. Free Groundhog Day e-cards have become a popular and cost-free way to bring a little levity into the lives of celebrants and recipients. E-cards are light hearted, digitally designed video images which can be sent via email to hundreds of recipients at a time or to a sole celebrant. Senders make selections by logging onto e-card publisher websites and previewing animated clips of several no- or low-cost cards. Free Groundhog Day e-cards can be personalized with the sender's text and photos, or created by the sender using an online template. Colorful, animated cartoons of goofy groundhogs dressed in black tie and tails, emerging from burrows, or posing as weathermen are all meant to bring a laugh and a remembrance of the holiday. Some free Groundhog Day e-cards not only include Flash animation graphics, but interactive games which can be played by the recipient using the arrow keys and space bar on a PC keyboard. E-cards send to recipients are actually digital links to e-card publisher websites. When a recipient opens the email, the link connects them to the publisher site and the original graphic can be viewed, or electronically manipulated in the case of e-cards with interactive games. On February 2nd, regardless of whether Mr. Groundhog sees his shadow or not, sending free Groundhog Day e-cards is always a great way to celebrate this whimsical holiday.
History Of Earth DayA study of the history of Earth Day reveals that there are actually two observances: one on April 22 and the other on or near March 20. Both Earth Days were conceived during the turbulent 60s as a method of increasing global awareness of the earth and the environment. The April Earth day, celebrated in the Northern hemisphere, was founded by Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin senator and environmental activist. Nelson proposed an environmental teach-in during a Seattle, Washington conference which culminated in the first rally on April 22, 1970. More than 20 million proponents demonstrated worldwide to call attention to the environmental crisis in the United States. By the 20-year anniversary of the first April celebration, more than 200 million people in 141 nations had joined a global effort to bring environmental issues to the world's political forefront.
The history of Earth Day records that the second celebration was also initiated in the late 60s by peace activist John McConnell, who proposed a worldwide observance at a 1969 international environmental conference. McConnell later succeeded in getting the support and sanction of the United Nations, which officially proclaimed a global celebration of Earth Day on March 21, 1970, the March equinox. Occurring only twice a year, March and September, an equinox is the exact second that the sun crosses the celestial equator, causing day and night to be the same in length. Since their inceptions in the late 60s, both celebrations have become annual events of increasing significance for hundreds of millions around the world. What began as two men's efforts to heighten awareness of the environment has evolved into a near-religious experience involving nearly 175 nations.
Issues such as global warming and its impact on the environment have focused more attention on the annual celebrations. Growing concern over the disappearance of glaciers in Iceland and Greenland; the extinction of plant and animal species worldwide; diminishing land mass caused by flooding; and depleted food supplies due to droughts and abnormal weather patterns have become grave concerns. The history of Earth Day states that in 2000, more than 20 billion proponents on both hemispheres gathered around the world simultaneously to increase global awareness of environmental issues and garner greater support for green industries. Earth Day 2007 eclipsed the year 2000 tenfold, as nearly 200 billion men and women from all nationalities, creeds, and colors, across seven continents commemorated the single most environmentally significant event in the history of civilization.
The history of Earth Day encourages activities worldwide and touches the lives of school children, industrialists, social agencies, environmentalists, and clergymen. School age youngsters celebrate by writing papers, reciting poems, and sending free Earth Day e-cards. Some primary and secondary classes plant trees to commemorate the holiday and help preserve the environment. Green industries advocate and promote methods for using eco-friendly building materials, alternative sources of fuel, biotechnology, and sustainable agriculture. Environmentalists continue to educate the public by conducting seminars or televising discussions. Churches and organized religions help foster a greater awareness by hosting conferences or workshops to encourage congregants to adapt more environmentally-conscious lifestyles. In the workplace, corporations challenge employees to find ways to eliminate toxic waste and harmful green gas emissions through carpooling or driving hybrid vehicles.
The fact that concern over the environment has the ability to garner the support of billions of people all over the globe is encouraging. When men of every nation, creed, and color join forces to accomplish goals, the chances of success can be overwhelming. Unity of purpose is a principle which always produces positive end results. In the beginning of creation, all of mankind spoke the same language and had the same goals. They collectively sought to build the Tower of Babel which would have reached to Heaven. Even though God confounded their language to prevent them from corrupting the heavens as sinful men, He applauded the collective effort. "And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do" (Genesis 11:6). A heightened public awareness, coupled with a concentrated global effort, can succeed in protecting the environment for the future.
Free Earth Day e-cards serve to enlighten, encourage and inspire recipients to join the fight to help preserve the environment. E-cards are colorfully illustrated with children's drawings of lush green trees, professional photos of bright blue smog-free skies, or images of brilliant suns. Some e-cards come emblazoned with an ecology flag, a view of the planet as seen from outer space, or a green and white theta symbol. Senders can browse e-card publisher websites and order beautifully illustrated e-cards featuring 15- to 30-second animated clips with ecologically-correct messages. Publisher sites allow senders to add a personal message or a favorite photo to the electronic card before emailing to family and friends. To select a free Earth Day e-card, senders simply select from a menu of thousands of occasions and preview thumbnails of each card. Clicking on the thumbnail opens and plays the short clip of the free Earth Day e-card. Senders can email one, two or each e-card to anyone on their email list.
Family, friends, coworkers, business associates, green industries, ecologists and environmentalists can share a global celebration of the planet --in March or April --by sending free Earth Day e-cards to any destination with Internet capabilities. Never in the history of mankind has there been an occasion when humans can communicate with one another, not just across the miles, but across continents and hemispheres. Because of electronic mail, time and space have entered a new dimension and a global neighbor is as close as a PC. Free Earth Day e-cards can link environmentally-conscious individuals, groups, and organizations all over the globe, to impact the world and keep the goal of preserving the environment for future generations alive.