Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Day of the Marmot!

In America's only (as far as we know) rodent-oriented holiday, every Feb. 2 people wake up early for some weather divination from the animal kingdom. If a certain groundhog sees his shadow and retreats, it means six more weeks of winter.

Frozen in time!
This year, groundhog opinion was divided. Punxsutawney Phil was predicting more cold, but Staten Island Chuck expected an early spring.

But if you ask across the world what people think the holiday is about, they're more likely to tell you it's about a life quest, a struggle in a repetitive eternity on existential day of reflection or even a time loop.

For many years the rest of the world was oblivious to what is even a parochial event in the U.S. But in 1993 pop culture changed all that. When "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray hit theaters it was an instant success domestically. The romantic comedy about a misanthropic man living the same day over and over took in about $70 million at the box office and ended up the No. 3 movie of the year.

Internationally is also struck a chord with moviegoers, being either dubbed or subtitled into more than a dozen languages over the next couple of years.

And soon the movie became bigger than the holiday it celebrated.

In London, when people talked about Groundhog Day they meant a day that just repeated.

That's borne out in some of the direct translations of the movie's title.
In France, it's "Un Jour Sans Fin," or "A Day Without End." In Italy it's "Ricomincio da Capo" or "Starting from the Top."

In Japan, they went with "Koi Wa Deja Bu," translated as "Love is Déjà vu."
And in Greece they were more literal with "I Mera Tis Marmotas," which is "The Day of the Marmot."

Pop culture opportunities like these should be embraced by ex-pats. While discussing this, an American could hear about the French philosophers' thought on a day without end. And then explain why groundhogs make the best weathermen.

Happy Groundhog Day!

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