Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Groundhog Day

My birthday is February 3rd.  It is my favorite holiday and I like to make a big deal out of it.  Countdowns and random reminder announcements the whole annoying shebang.  This year on my classroom board I have had a countdown.
My student's don't pay complete attention to me most of the time and the other day I was asked, "Teacher, what is your favorite holiday?" I was feeling in a feisty mood so I responded with "Groundhog Day."  This caused many issues I did not foresee.  The first, my student's are like Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory  and they struggle with grasping sarcasm.  I don't think it is used much in Korean language and so the ones who have not studied abroad just are not familiar with this style of communication.  So, many of them truly believed that Groundhog's day was my fave holiday.  This lead to the next question which is really what my post is about.  "What is Groundhog Day?"

Have you ever tried to explain this holiday to someone?  I started out with this story that felt so fun and whimsical but by the end I felt like I was describing animal torture for no reason.  The kids were really confused.  Here is what I said-ish.

Groundhog Day is a holiday in the US on February 2nd where everyone gathers in Punxsutawney, PA and the make this old groundhog named Phil wake up from his hibernation and scramble out of his house.  When he comes out of his house if he gets scared by his shadow because it is super sunny outside and he is all sleepy-eyed and goes back to sleep and we have 6 more weeks of winter.  If it is overcast and he doesn't get scared I don't remember what happens... winter never ends, I guess.
Turns out that if he stays out then we have an Early Spring... I just googled it.  Anyway, my students had more questions for me after I told them about this silly tradition then they did before.  We didn't have time to talk forever about it since we had an Algebra test to take but I was really perplexed at how I have accepted this as a normal tradition my whole life but now that I have had to explain it to foreigners I can see it really is odd.

They were the most confused on why we choose a Groundhog and what the heck a Groundhog was.  I had to explain to them that it look like a HUGE hamster and I figured we used it because it lived in the US.

Have you ever wondered about some of our holidays and customs and what it would be like to explain them to someone from another country?

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