季節の変わり目を記録する行事は、どこの文化でも見られるようです。 アメリカでも “Groundhog Day” という日があり、この日には ウッドチャックが初めて冬ごもりから姿を現し、春の到来を予測するとされています。 この日について ダン先生に紹介してもらいました。
In North America, February 2nd is a holiday called Groundhog Day. Since it isn’t a national holiday many people go to work and treat it as any other day. Although I remember we always made a big deal of it when I was in elementary school. We also called it Groundhog’s Day in my area.
Most people in Japan have probably never seen or heard of a groundhog. Maybe the closest thing in Japan to a groundhog is the squirrel (risu). Groundhogs are much bigger; some weigh as much as Max! In the spring and summer, they eat grass, leaves, and insects. In the winter, they dig very deep burrows and hibernate until spring. Another common name for the groundhog is woodchuck. When I was a kid, we used to say this tongue twister:
Q: “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
A: “A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.”
Folklore says that on Groundhog Day, the groundhog comes out of its burrow. If it doesn’t see its shadow, that means that spring is beginning and it will leave the burrow. If the groundhog does see its shadow, then it goes back into the burrow because winter will last for six more weeks.
Celebrations typically involve early morning festivals to watch the groundhog come out of its burrow. Some festivals are televised live or reported in the local news. The most famous Groundhog Day festival in the U.S. is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The groundhog there is named Punxsutawney Phil. It’s not unusual to hear about his predictions in other regions. In case you’re curious, Phil did not see his shadow this year and he predicted an early Spring!