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Most people call it February 2nd, but for the town of Punxsutawney, PA, it’s a town-wide celebration called Groundhog Day, a holiday with German origin and just another reason to throw a festive Saturday night party. While you might be familiar with the holiday from the movie of the same name, it actually has nothing to do with a constant state of déjà vu or multiple ways to kill oneself. The celebrity groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerges from the ground and forecasts the rest of the season: if he sees his shadow, we should expect six more weeks of winter. If he does not, spring will befall us earlier than expected.
But so what if Phil’s predictions are controversial! The purported 37-39% accuracy won’t stop us from recreating the festivities Punxsutawney enjoys annually or maybe even setting the new standard (or low, if you’re a pessimist) on weird holiday parties. But you might be asking yourself, “why the heck would I celebrate Groundhog Day?” Simple: why not? You might also be asking, “how do I even celebrate Groundhog Day??” Read on!
How do you commemorate the emergence of a large rodent? With top hats, of course! Formal wear is the preferred attire in the presence of Phil, and while your
party may not be as fancy, top hats easily establish the mood as something more than your typical weekend party. Whether you shop for cheap top hats at party retailers like Party City or Oriental Trading, the dress code is entirely open: encourage the fanciest threads or winter or spring apparel. Might you like to initiate some competition and unnecessary taunting, guests can be encouraged to dress for the season (winter or spring) they believe Punxsutawney Phil will predict. Consider fostering that friction with Groundhog Day-themed games. Phil hides in the ground, so you might hide a small groundhog or rodent-like toy somewhere in your home for guests to find. Or place a folded piece of paper with a groundhog on it in a filled balloon among many balloons; a prize awaits the person who finds it. If nothing else, a piñata is a reliable, affordable option: hey, everybody loves smashing things.
On past Groundhog Days, one would expect– indeed, anticipate– a roasted animal of sorts to be on the menu. Now, you and small animals can sigh in inexpensive hunger killers like hot dogs, cupcakes, and various nibblers. Punxsutawney Phil might inspire a groundhog-themed fest foods or foods with things coming out of holes (flush that dirty mind out!). For example, bacon, cheese, and relish-laced Whistle Dogs honor Wiarton Willie, the Canadian groundhog who would partake in the holiday festivities, and brown-sugar-and-bacon-packed Pennsylvania Dutch Baked Beans hail from Phil’s native state.
Food with holes for your food holes includes tasty unhealthy treats like Chocolate Mocha Liqueur Cake, a German Chocolate bundt cake with almost a full cup of coffee-flavored liqueur. Aptly place a groundhog or squirrel-like figurine in the center, and your Groundhog Day-themed dessert is complete. If you’re looking to go all out, try a cuddle-worthy batch of Groundhog Day Cupcakes: an almond joy, some white jelly beans and M&Ms, a bit of a jelly watermelon slice, a little decorator’s gel for glue, and you and your guests get to gobble non-roasted small animals for dessert!
Alcohol and Groundhog Day go together like… well, we don’t know what, but it’s a sufficient excuse to try out some unfamiliar party cocktails! How about a Queen Elizabeth, a cocktail with Dry vermouth, Bénédictine, and lime juice. Something a little more wintery would be a Clover Club, a sweet mix of gin, raspberry syrup, lemon juice, and an egg white. If you and your guests loved the movie, serve them a sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist, a cocktail loved by Andie MacDowell and loathed by Bill Murray. Quite a grand name for such a simple cocktail: sweet vermouth with squeezed, stirred lemon juice with a lemon twist as garnish.
Early spring, longer winter, who cares: we’re just happy we get another reason to cook, drink, converse, and make memories! And to that, we say, happy Groundhog Day!