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Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's Groundhog Day! Come On Spring!

If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Winter has another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Winter will not come again.
Here in the U.S., today is Groundhog Day. In France, it is La Chandeleur; Crêpe Day. If Phil doesn't see his shadow at 7:25 a.m. this morning there is hope for an early Spring. Truth be told, I can never remember whether Punxsutawney Phil is suppose to see his shadow or not. You would think I'd remember. After all, I do happen to live in central PA, not very far from Punxsutawney.
Groundhog Day has been a tradition in the U.S. since the 1800s (which is when weather records began as well). The date is always February 2 --- why you ask? That day is the midpoint between the winter solstice (shortest day of the year) and the spring equinox (a nice balance of 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness). The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., happened February 2, 1887.
The myth is… if the sun shines on that day, snow will swirl until May. So, if the groundhog sees his shadow when he is brought out of his burrow at 7:25 a.m. on Sunday, myth says there will be six more weeks of winter. If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, an early spring shall be near! (source)

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
Gobbler's Knob | Photo by Alex Wong | Getty Images
While I was over at Phil's website, groundhog.org, I figured I might as well see what other bits of folklore I could consume. Here are a few of my favorites:)

1. There has only been one Punxsutawney Phil. He has been making predictions for over 125 years!
2. Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking the "elixir of life," a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life. A groundhog's life span is normally six to eight years.
3. The groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, is a member of the squirrel family.
4. A groundhog can whistle when it is alarmed. Groundhogs also whistle in the spring when they begin courting, hence their nickname; "whistlepig.
5. So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br'er Groundhog.
6. During Prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn't permitted a drink.
7. The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, "For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May..."
Early Christians celebrated Candlemas Day, when the clergy blessed and distributed candles. Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, brought this tradition to the Germans...Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans who found groundhogs in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog was an intelligent animal and decided that if the sun appeared on February 2nd, the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.
The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:
February 4, 1841 - from Morgantown, Berks County (Pennsylvania) storekeeper James Morris' diary..."Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate." (source)
In Europe, the original purveyor of the season was a badger but since there weren't as many badgers in Pennsylvania, German settlers chose the plentiful groundhog as their "soothsayer." Since there are no groundhogs to be found in Alaska, the state has been celebrating Marmot Day since 2010.
Whew! Now can we have some crêpes? Before we begin though, you might just want to take a peek at the recipe for these Pop-Up Groundhog Cookies. Aren't they so cute! And they actually Pop too!
I really want to get this post up before Groundhog Day is a distant memory so, I have "borrowed" the explanation as to why today is also Crêpe Day in France from wikipedia:) I did do a quick search though and I'd say it's pretty accurate. Wikipedia has gotten much better these days:) Sometimes, I offer my research notes to their site:)
In France, crêpes are traditionally served on Candlemas (La Chandeleur), February 2. This day was originally Virgin Mary's Blessing Day, but became known in France as "Le Jour des Crêpes" (literally translated "The Day of the Crêpes", but sometimes given colloquially as "Avec Crêpe Day" or "National Crêpe Day"), referring to the tradition of offering crêpes. The belief was that if you could catch the crêpe with a frying pan after tossing it in the air with your right hand and holding a gold coin in your left hand, you would become rich that year.
This recipe for Crêpe Suzettes comes from a book titled Classic French published in 1996. IMHO, I don't think skim milk is the usual ingredient. I checked a few of my other cookbooks and not one of them calls for skim milk as an ingredient. I would have included the other recipes in today's post but, quite frankly, I have been feeling a bit under the weather the past few days (come on Spring!) and, I have been having both Pinterest issues and email issues which have not been making me feel any better.
Crepes Suzette | Classic French Cookbook 1996
You may also enjoy watching Julia Child make her Crêpe Suzettes for a few tips:)
Happy Groundhog Day everyone and for those of you celebrating Super Bowl Sunday, Be Safe and Enjoy:)
P.S. Don't forget Carrot Cake Day tomorrow! There are lots of Carrot Cake recipes on my Pinterest board and on the Quick Links post I did back in 2010.
National Carrot Cake Day | February 3rd