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Shubenacadie Sam

Seeing that it's Feb 2, what else can I post about but groundhogs?!

A little backpeddling seems to have been the order of the day for the NS government recently. On Monday, the Chronicle Herald posted this story saying that the annual Groundhog Day festivities at the Provincial Wildlife Park had been cancelled due to lack of funding. Sounds as though someone hoped to quietly cancel it, but once the newspaper got involved, the powers that be must have felt the negative publicity wasn't worth it, so came through with funding after all. The event is usually very popular with local families, and Sam is the definitive groundhog of North America after all, thanks to our Atlantic timezone! (Unless he has a rival in Newfoundland, who would edge him out by half an hour, but I've never heard of one.)

According to the news release on the Provincial Government website:

"Groundhog Day is a North American tradition that has its roots in the Candlemas celebrations of Europe. Germans first used hedgehogs to predict whether they would have six more weeks of winter or an early spring. German settlers brought the tradition to Pennsylvania in the 18th Century, and began to use groundhogs instead of hedgehogs."

Now see, I want that job...researching fun facts on the origins of groundhog day and such, I mean. Doesn't that sound ever so much more enjoyable than financial analysis??! :)

Our neighbour, Stan, used to have a groundhog under his woodshed. We gave up on our vegetable garden because it always ate the tops off the plants before the veggies could grow. Our cat Rainbow (Winston's sister, now dead) tried to hunt it, but apparently it was too vicious for her. Stan said he watched her creep down under the shed, low to the ground as cats are when hunting...then suddenly she came bolting out of there as fast as she could go, with an angry groundhog in pursuit! So she stuck to birds, small rodents and rabbits after that (the rabbits were almost bigger than she was.)

Who can think of Groundhog Day without thinking of the movie of the same name, starring Bill Murray? I quite like this movie, I have to say, might have to buy it. It's a movie one expects to be lighthearted and totally frivolous, but somehow manages to sneak in a really cool message. I love how Murray's character grows in the movie; he starts off as a cynical, self centred lout, and over the course of the endlessly repeating day, finds compassion and an openness to love. Just thinking it's too bad we weren't having a Cafe Soul dinner & movie thing at church this week, because this would have been an excellent and fun movie for discussion!

As I look out my window this morning, the sun is shining brightly over endless blue skies...so I guess Shubenacadie Sam will have seen his shadow at the official 8:00 ceremony, meaning we are in for six more weeks of winter. And I'm sure we can count on his prediction, it's so very reliable and scientific after all... :)

Edited to add: click here to read today's story from the Chronicle Herald. Shadows were seen...and according to Environment Canada, here's the weather warning for Nova Scotia tomorrow: "Snow at times heavy beginning late Tuesday morning or early Tuesday afternoon giving 15 to 25 centimetres."

Comments (11)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Anne, interestin read. I have to admit I don't really know much about Groundhog day, but I did watch and enjoy that movie with Bill Murray and agree with your comments about it.

Wow, I read the articles you posted about your weather! Yikes. Stay warm Anne!


Thanks Kathy, I am SO glad we have a truck with 4wd and snow tires, or I'd have been stranded a few times this winter! Sounds very nasty tomorrow though - am hoping our power doesn't go out because our backup generator isn't working properly!


Excellent information; never knew the history.


Hey Kim, glad to enlighten you! :) I don't recall that history being in the movie, but will have to pay attention to the background noise next time I watch it.


Anne, I read the shocking news this morning in the Globe and Mail that these groundhogs are correct only 50 per cent of the time. So perhaps we WON'T have another six weeks of winter!


oh my gosh, Sandra, that IS shocking news!!! The way this year is going though, we'll probably have another 7-8 weeks of winter! :(

Great post! I heard this morning that P. Phil has only predicted an early spring 14 times in 123 years. I did not know this before. That makes me wonder how important these *special* groundhogs actually are. One could look at this as either the Farmer's Almanac is probably more accurate or there really is not much of a chance to ever have an early spring.

Barb Cabot:

I enjoyed this post. So interesting. Also I love that movie. Bill Murray makes me laugh.


girasoli, *gasp* do you doubt the veracity of the groundhogs??!! (I think you're right - there's not much chance of ever having an early spring, at least not in Nova Scotia.)

Thanks Barb, Bill Murray cracks me up too, have been a fan since his SNL days!

Rabbits!? Rainbow hunted rabbits!? I'm horrified! :)
Our cats were cautiously amused at the pet rabbits we had in the backyard; they'd sniff and follow them around. I wish I had photos of them together because it was a very sweet sight.

Sending warm thoughts your way.


Maria, I wasn't too fond of the rabbit hunting either! There are lots of wild ones in the woods around our area, so wasn't much I could do to stop her. Well I suppose I could have kept her inside, but am one of those who feel cats are meant to roam free (I know lots of people disagree with that philosophy though!)

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