Groundhog Day has always been an odd little day. If the name of the day itself doesn’t make this apparent, imagine explaining it to someone from a foreign country, or an alien. (“It’s, um, this day where we pretend that a big ground squirrel can predict the weather?”) February 2nd has become, like Valentine’s Day or April Fool’s Day, a largely symbolic gesture, in this case representing our desire for winter to conclude.
Since the movie Groundhog Day came out, though, the day has also begun to remind one of the concept of time travel. So, starting with the premise that time travel is inarguably awesome, I wonder... should Groundhog Day become an appreciation of time travel?
I can think of three points in favor of doing so:
1.) We’re doing it anyway. Being on the staff of a science fiction/fantasy website, my first thought when approached with the words “groundhog day” is to think of the movie and the time travel concept within it. Only after that do I remember the actual purpose of the day.
As time goes on, I suspect time travel will continue to supplant the noble groundhog in our minds as the reason for the season. Time travel is just more fun to think about.
2.) Speaking of, time travel is great. As a 21st century society, we’ve made significant strides towards achieving in reality what we used to fantasize about in fiction. There are lots of huge concepts that remain out of reach, though, like world peace, renewable energy, and faster-than-light speeds. Time travel counts itself amongst those concepts. It’s not something we can do, but it IS something that conjures countless possibilities. It stretches our minds, forces us to think in paradoxical terms, and sometimes represents itself as an appealing blue box. The concept is worth celebrating.
3.) Why not? The entire reason for Groundhog Day is pretty spurious as it is. It’s not a federal holiday and it’s not a symbolic holiday with any commerce associated with it, like Valentine’s Day. As far as celebratory days go, it’s intent feels more amorphous and weird than most. So if we want to celebrate something else that February 2nd evokes, why not?
I can think of a few points against this, though:
1.) Celebrate a scientific achievement worth celebrating. I admit, I don’t have a defense for this argument. If we really want to celebrate something with science fiction trappings, why not put some real effort into making the Moon Landing anniversary a true holiday on account of we landed on the fucking moon?
2.) Time travel isn’t real. Neither is successfully predicting the weather but, as opposed to time travel, we have a real shot at working out more precise weather models. Time travel, on the other hand, pits the physical properties of the entire universe against our imagination. It’s hard to justify a celebration of something that may never be real.
3.) Seriously, this is dumb. This idea did hatch from the mind of someone who has seriously considered writing a post wondering what happened to Myfawnwy, the time-displaced pterodactyl from Torchwood, after the events of the Children of Earth mini-series. The sugar-high quotient of this Groundhog Day idea is just as large.
I’ve got one more point in favor, though:
4.) It gives others an easy gateway into sci-fi/fantasy. The legitimacy of being a fan of science fiction and fantasy concepts has taken huge leaps in the past couple decades and this could be another rallying point for those who are deeply invested in SFF fiction. It’s a casual topic that’s fun to deliberate on and which can be brought up in most any type of company.
Basically, it’s a lighthearted way to introduce someone to the aspects of SFF that excite you as a devoted reader. And anything that builds bridges like that is worth celebrating.
Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com. No times were traveled during the making of this article. This post originally appeared in an altered version on Tor.com during Groundhog Day, 2012.