By long-standing tradition, Groundhog Day comes every February 2. On that date, tradition holds, Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is wrested from his burrow and, if he sees his shadow, the people will have six more weeks of winter. (Punxsutawney must be a sunny place, for the official beginning of spring – March 21 or thereabouts – is always the same six or seven weeks from February 2.)
For some of us, however, Groundhog Day came last weekend, which is when most of the U. S. set its clocks ahead one hour in annual observance of “Daylight Savings Time.” And, just as in the Bill Murray movie of the same name, we are forced to relive what we just went through.
Begun in 1916 as an effort to conserve resources, Daylight Savings Time supposedly realigns the workers’ clock more closely with the longer daylight hours of the sun, which rises and sets higher in the northern hemisphere sky the closer to the summer solstice we get. This, in theory, should make workers happier and more efficient by giving them longer work daylight work hours – but does it really?
For many of us, tired from a long and dreary winter – and this past one has seemed longer and drearier than most – Daylight Savings Time throws us back on our heels. After three or four months of cold, depressing dark, we had finally reached the point at which – miracle of miracles! – our wakeup time was finally again coinciding with the sunrise. On all but the cloudiest and snowiest days we would get just a hint of brightness, and on cold and clear ones a nice, bright, sunny sky was a welcome invitation to the new day.
Now we are back in the darkness for another four to six weeks, just as Punxatawney Phil predicted.
Happy Goundhog Day indeed!