Canadians Jubilant Despite Unexpected Death Of Weather-Predicting Rodent Fred La Marmotte
Today is groundhog day. It’s the day when, most famously in the Punxsutawney neighborhood of Pennsylvania, a group of weirdos in costumes pull a poor groundhog out of its burrow and try to discern if it has seen its shadow. In a way, this portends another six weeks of winter, or maybe the opposite. Like astrology or transubstantiation, I don’t fully understand how it works.
And like the rituals around astrology and transubstantiation, you can really create a lot of community around that. The groundhog ritual developed from superstitions that German-speaking communities in Pennsylvania brought with them from Europe. This has led to thousands of people flocking to a seemingly random western Pennsylvania town every winter for a party. Not a bad crowd for a show where the centerpiece is a grumpy rodent. I have been to Punxsutawney. Phil lives year-round in a small burrow at City Hall. There are marmot statues around town. Other places have their own rodents predicting the weather and silly little games they play around. It’s cute! It’s good!
That doesn’t mean it’s always good for the groundhog. Early Groundhog Day traditions in Pennsylvania involved eating groundhogs and drinking a mixture of pork and chicken called “groundhog punch”. I don’t know which is more rude. In 2014, Bill de Blasio, then mayor of New York, dropped a groundhog.
Although the borough’s weather forecast rodent is Staten Island Chuck, de Blasio dropped a replacement named Charlotte. She died a few days later. Although the Staten Island Zoo released a statement saying it “seemed unlikely” that Charlotte was killed in the fall, I think we can all continue to blame de Blasio for killing the groundhog for reasons related to hilarity.
Groundhog Day 2023 brings us another tragedy. The Quebec groundhog, Fred la Marmotte, died before he could deliver his prediction. There was about an hour of preparation at the live event and on a live broadcast, before organizer Roberto Blondin told the horrified crowd that the groundhog was dead.
I don’t know what this predicts, but Quebec marmot Fred la Marmotte has passed away.
It was a bit of a surprise – they had a whole event leading up to his prediction only for his death to be announced. pic.twitter.com/u9XSNgse3Z
— Sarah Leavitt (@sarahleavittcbc) February 2, 2023 You don’t need to speak French to know when this guy said the groundhog was dead.
The death of Fred! Oh man. Canada’s Global News quoted Blondin: “When I went to wake him up last night, he had no vital signs. He probably died during hibernation. How long had this marmot been dead? “Fred’s Day festivities went ahead despite the passing of the incumbent Fred,” the Montreal Gazette said, and that’s clear from the live stream.
via live stream
Is that… is that how they cry in Canada? Blondin pulled out a stuffed groundhog, then raised a human child as Fred’s replacement. Who knows if spring will ever come to Canada.