Last Thursday, February 2nd, on the day known as Groundhog day, Punxsutawney Phil - the infamous weather predicting marmot of the Mid Atlantic (who knew there were several weather predicting Groundhogs across the country!) - saw his shadow, and by doing so, predicted six more weeks of winter, in contrast to the coming of an early Spring.
For the many cold-weather, winter lovers out there, this was great news, for the rest of us looking forward to green trees and long days, Phil's shadow was not quite what we were hoping for.
But who is to say Punxsutawney Phil is right? Well, for starters, not many weather- predictors. In fact, they say Phil has been wrong many more times than he has been right! So why is there still attention given to this day and to this "sign"?
Perhaps it is because it is a tradition- one that began 130 years ago - and one that connects us to those that came before us. Perhaps its because it gives us something to look forward to, breaking up the winter months, acting as a beacon of anticipation and hope for the coming year. Maybe it sparks a conversation that breaks up the monotony of our daily occurrences. Or maybe it is simply all of these things combined, a lighthearted ritual that serves many purposes.
The amazing thing (and important thing) about "signs" (and even "symbols" and "rituals") is that both the strength and meaning of them is dictated by those who read and who choose to see the value and significance in them. In fact, the act of marriage is a commitment often represented by ritual, signs, and symbols - from the vows exchanged, to the clothes and the rings worn by each partner. There is great meaning and power in these things - for those who believe there is.
Signs, symbols and rituals are important, for they often connect us to things, others, and ourselves, in a way that exceeds our tangible and physical reality. While some are more important than others (sorry Phil!), we hope those that act as a force of positivity and good in this world, no matter how big or how small, always carry the most strength.
Still patiently waiting for Spring,
Erica & Christina