Will there be six more weeks of winter or an early spring? Will Punxsy wake up to his shadow? The origin of Groundhog Day began with the celebration of Candlemas Day in medieval Europe.
Candles were blessed and handed out on a day that was midpoint between the first day of winter and the first day of spring.
In Germany, the hedgehog was chosen for predicting the weather.
When the German settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, they continued this tradition with a groundhog, since hedgehogs weren’t available. In 1886, The Punxsutawney Spirit printed the first official observance in its newspaper.
We’ve celebrated Punxsutawney Phil’s debut on Groundhog Day ever since.
This tradition isn’t totally goofy, since animals are sensitive to the thawing of soil and other signs of spring.
If you’re not crazy about a cuddling a rodent on this special day, the “groundhog in a can” souvenir is available at this Punxsutawney website.
This is a recipe that allows you to play with your food.
The tootsie roll groundhogs pop up from the cookies with the help of your pinky finger.
The kids will love biting off the heads of their groundhog/dogs with this meal theme.
Traditions have always been an important part of the Thanksgiving celebration. But how did these traditions get started? Football games
For our family, this day is a tradition for giving thanks and watching our Packers play football.
The Detroit Lions are credited with starting this Thanksgiving day tradition in 1934. The team’s owner knew scheduling a game on a holiday could be risky, but when the game was quickly sold out, a tradition was born. Our son-in-law’s team, the Lions, beat our Packers on Thanksgiving Day. Oh well, there’s always a next time.
Turkey Wishbone Cracking
This is one of the odder traditions that has a very deep history and actually dates back thousands of years.
The custom of snapping these bones or furculas in two after dinner came to us from the English, who got it from the Romans, who got it from the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization.
The Etruscans apparently thought chickens had supernatural powers, so they used the birds in an attempt to predict the future.
Amazingly, they found goose bones were capable of predicting if the winter would be severe or mild.
I wonder if my local television station’s weatherman has a few wishbones next to his prognosticating equipment!
Love it or hate it, they are considered a part of the Thanksgiving tradition. While cranberries were available, the Pilgrims likely weren’t devouring them as a sauce or relish. Since sugar was a luxury item, making the jam would have been expensive.
As reported in The New Jersey Star-Ledger, “Cranberries officially became a part of the national Thanksgiving tradition in 1864, when Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered cranberries be served to soldiers as part of their holiday meal.” Whether it was widely used before that remains a mystery.
This cranberry recipe got five stars from my family and is now part of our traditional turkey dinner. What’s your favorite (or wacky) holiday tradition memory.
Make it a day ahead, as it allows the fruit to set nicely and the flavors to really come together.
12 ounces fresh (rinsed, stemmed and drained) or frozen cranberries
½ POM pomegranate juice (about ¼ cup)
1 Quince (peeled, cored, seeded and diced)
2 Satsumas or small oranges (juiced and zested)
1 cup super fine sugar
Place the diced quince in a small saucepan with enough water to cover fruit over high heat. Bring to boil, lower heat to medium and simmer until quince is fork tender. Set aside without draining fruit to avoid discoloration.
Place cranberries, Satsuma orange zest and juice, sugar and pomegranate juice in medium-size saucepan over high heat.
Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add drained quince and simmer for about 10 minutes or until mixture thickens and quince melds with the cranberries. Crush the quince with back of wooden spoon while stirring if necessary.
Test if thickened. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Refrigerate. Will keep for 3 or 4 weeks in refrigerator.