Couch Potato Pickings | Groundhog Day, and other seasonal films

Bill Murray

The evidence that this is a great film – one of my faves of all time – is that the term Groundhog Day has now slipped into common vocab to describe any repeated scenario.

However, the term Groundhog Day actually refers to the annual 2nd Feb custom celebrated in the US and Canada where a groundhog decides the date of the start of spring by its actions as it emerges from its burrow.

The fact that Five USA is showing this film today in July illustrates just how out of touch today’s society is with the changing seasons.

Yes, very few of us probably give much thought to what season it is.

It doesn’t help that we’re given conflicting seasonal info by the media via weather reporters or programmes called Springwatch that broadcast in May and June, and such like.

Groundhog Day marks the potential start of spring on 2nd Feb. Click here for more info on that.

Bill Murray,Andie MacDowell

People differ in opinion on the start dates of the seasons, but I like to think of the seasons according to the eight ancient celtic festivals because they’re in tune with nature and are marked by crops, daylight hours and the strength of the sun.

Now Groundhog Day falls at a similar time to Imbolc, the start of Spring (which also coincides with the Christian Candlemas), and since early Feb is always the time when the first snowdrops flower in my garden, that’s good enough a spring start date for me.

Judy Garland,Fred Astaire

Spring Equinox is the next festival around 21st March and is the date on which day and night are equal. It’s mid-spring and the growing season is seriously kicking in. This often coincides with Jewish Passover (full moon after equinox) and the Christian Easter festival (the first Sunday after the full moon after Spring Equinox).

The Wicker Man

Mayday or Beltane falls on 1st May and marks the start of summer. It’s named after the Hawthorn tree (aka May tree) which flowers at this time. That cult movie classic The Wicker Man tells a chilling story of Mayday or Beltane tradition. The brilliant 1973 version of this film is showing on ITV4 on Wednesday at 11pm and Thursday at 10.05pm while the disappointing 2006 version is on Sky Sci-fi/Horror on Friday at 11.10pm.

Summer Solstice takes place around the 21st June and is the year’s longest day. It’s close to the 24th June Christian festival of St John and Midsummer’s Day, and we’ve all heard of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Lughnasa or Lammas at the beginning of August marks the beginning of the harvest season. Crops are growing in abundance now. The movie Dancing at Lughnasa nods to this ancient festival as it tells its story of an unconventional household in rural Donegal during the 1930s.

Autumn Equinox falls around 22nd September and marks the middle of the harvest season. There doesn’t tend to be as much made of this festival – perhaps everyone’s too busy harvesting – and I don’t know of any associated films.

Debbie Reynolds,Kimberley J Brown

Samhain marks the end of the growing season and coincides with the Christian Halloween – plenty of films there.

Mara Wilson

Winter Solstice around 21st Dec is the shortest day, which coincides with Christmas, Midwinter, Yule, Hanukkah – again plenty of films there.

Aside from Christmas (and to a smaller extent Easter and Halloween), when the associated films are wheeled out in force and rarely shown at other times of the year, other seasonal movies, including the ones mentioned above, are rarely tied to their relevant dates. If they were, maybe we’d think a bit more about the cycles of the year and our environment. I think it would be useful and inspiring. What do you think?

Groundhog Day is showing on Five USA tonight at 9pm, and it’s Groundhog Day again at 3pm tomorrow

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