Thursday, February 2, 2012

Serbian Bear Day

Happy Groundhog day!

One hundred and seventy one years ago today, on February 2nd 1841, the first recorded Groundhog Day was celebrated in Berks County Pennsylvania. Forty six years later, on February 2nd 1887, the first celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania would be celebrated. The celebration in Punxsutawney would become the most famous celebration of this most auspicious holiday.

Hardcore practitioners erect special huts where they sit, drink, and speak only Pennsylvania Dutch (which is German with a bad accent). The highlight of the celebration is when a groundhog emerges from its hole. If the groundhog sees its shadow then there are to be six more weeks of winter.

Thirteen days later in Serbia (February 2nd on the Julian Calendar) there is a similar celebration called Sretenje or The Meeting of the Lord. The Serbians use a bear’s seeing its shadow to predict 40 more days of winter. Because bears are notoriously uncooperative the Serbian bear is often more notional than Punxsutawney groundhog, which has been named “Phil”.

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