Will you have six more weeks of Winter or an early Spring?

I’ve often wondered why we have Groundhog’s Day but haven’t wondered hard enough to google it. On a recent cold, cloudy, snow-packed day, I decided to look it up. It actually has Native American roots, Christian connections (February 2 is Candlemas Day – 40 days after Christmas) and pagan origins (February 2 is halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox). If the groundhog sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of winter; if he doesn’t, we’ll have an early Spring. On Candlemas, European Christians would bring their candles to church to be blessed by the priest to last them through the rest of Winter. In both interpretations, it has to do with lighting the darkness and getting rid of shadows.

The 1993 comedy of the same name starring Bill Murray as the feckless reporter, Phil Cooper, recounts how Phil has to relive the same day he hates over and over and over. As I read different interpretations of this “screwball” comedy, I found that the movie touched a chord with people from many different religious and spiritual traditions. It is seen as a story of humanity and the story of the big questions we ask about what we’re doing with our time. Phil only eventually escapes the time loop by becoming a better person and doing good deeds for others.

So I’ve come to take this minor holiday a little more seriously. It would be wise for all of us to think about what we’re doing with our short time on this planet. How are we lighting the darkness? Are we examining our own “shadows” ?

In my coaching with individuals, we reflect on who do they want to be and what do they want to do? I may make “Groundhog Day” required homework.