Groundhog Day

Since 1887, it has become an American tradition to have our weather forecast for the coming weeks decided by the most unlikely of creatures. Every year on February 2^nd^, people gather in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (which is about 75 miles NE of Pittsburgh) to see whether a groundhog (named Punxsutawney Phil) will see his shadow. According to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow (which he “sees” 90% of the time), we will have six more weeks of winter.

Human Traditions

Of the various traditions which have come about in human history, this is indeed a strange one. Although the ceremony is held mostly in fun and without seriousness, the objective observer might find such a practice truly unusual. Such a tradition is demonstrative of just how much in this world is beyond our control – the weather included. By placing our predictive hopes in an oversized rodent, who is simply another of God’s creatures, we are greatly ignoring the Cause of weather itself.

It is curious that the predictive element in the Groundhog Day event is based upon whether or not the creature “sees” his shadow. There is other traditional and superstitious history concerning shadows, such as the ancient Scottish belief that a clear “Candlemas” (Christmas) day would bring a long winter – such a day would cast many shadows. Other superstitions exist as well.

True Predictions

In contrast, there was once a man who came to earth whom the ancient prophets proclaimed would bring to “[t]he people who were sitting in darkness great light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned” (Mat. 4:16; cf. Luke 1:79; Isa. 9:2, NASU). This “Light of the World” (John 8:12; 9:5) surely cast many shadows when shining upon the wicked men of the world. But instead of “promising” a long bleak winter season, His shadows pointed out the failings of man and promised a better future in Him. When facing the humbling reality of sin and its penalty, six weeks of winter truly pales in comparison

Something Serious

It is understood that much of the Groundhog Day holiday is meant in jest. But as the media and American public focus upon the decision of a furry little creature and his shadow this February 2^nd^, perhaps it would be good to remember a different shadow that was cast by a cross on a hill many years ago. The cause of the shadow and the power of the cross that cast will always have meaning for man, as long as shadows exist.

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