Hiddey Ho Scribblers! J Monkeys here. Today is one of my very favorite holidays – Groundhog’s Day. I love these slightly off kilter holidays. No gifts to wrap, no people to cook and clean for, just some fun. Someday, I’m going to spend February 2nd on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for the big event.
Now just in case you’ve spent your life under a rock, or are not familiar with kooky American traditions, legend has it that if a groundhog (a rodent that lives in a burrow type thing underground) sees his shadow when he emerges on February 2nd, then he will go back to hibernating because we’ll have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then we’ll have an early spring. Our official groundhog is, of course, Punxsutawney Phil. Apparently, in years when February 2nd falls on a weekend day (like today) Punxsutawney sees upwards of 20,000 people crowding their otherwise small town for the event. Other years, they get somewhere in the neighborhood of 13,000 people. Someday, my family will be five people in the crowd.
By the way exciting times for today: Phil has predicted an early Spring. After the cold snap we’ve had the last weeks, I’m looking forward to it. This week, we had a terrible tease of a day. The early morning hours of Thursday brought us torrential rain and hurricane force gusts, followed by nearly 60 degrees at breakfast time. Not to worry, it was snowing pretty hard by breakfast yesterday. Sigh. New England weather – what a hoot.
Another one of these cool holidays is Patriots’ Day. This is really just a holiday in Massachusetts, although since it’s a state holiday (schools & banks closed, that sort of thing – most especially the post office) when it falls on Monday the 15th of April, the entire country enjoys a brief (day-long) respite from filing the annual income taxes.
I lived in Boston for a couple of years, and I did celebrate Patriots’ Day in its intended form in 1999. I arose well before dawn, and trekked to the the Lexington Town Green to watch the Redcoats march in and the Minute Men repel the attack. It was WICKED cool. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to follow along to Concord because I had to go to work and get fired. I worked for a New Jersey company with a satellite office in Boston. They didn’t appreciate the day properly. Maybe they were just jealous that Longfellow never commemorated a New Jersey event in poem. But it was cool to be there, and when my kids are old enough to be studying the American Revolution in school (just a few years away) we’ll be taking a road trip to Bean-Town, you can be sure of that!
This is all well and good, but you might be wondering what it has to do with writing. Well, here it is:
Today’s secret: when you are creating a new world in your writing, as many of us do, don’t forget to give it some important holidays. Even towns can celebrate something that nobody else does. Make something up like Pickle Harvest Day, Grape Squishing Day or Scissor Development Day? There’s a town in the northeast of England that this year will be celebrating 776th annual Sheep Fair this year. 776! Now that’s dedication. Seriously – here’s a link to the 2012 festival. I’ve borrowed it for my current WIP.
Today’s question: what’s your favorite little-known holiday?