Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rodent Holidays

February 2 is Groundhog Day. In Punxsutawney, Penn., grown men and women congregate outside of a rodent burrow on this day and wait patiently for a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil to emerge. Apparently, the people in Punxsutawney don’t have much of a life.

If the groundhog sees its shadow on this day, legend has it that there will be six more weeks of winter.

If the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, it either means it will be an early spring or the groundhog was too busy gawking at the people who were gawking at it to notice.

There are many other holidays involving rodents but few people pay much attention to them.

WOODCHUCK DAY. Woodchuck is another name for a groundhog. Lumberjacks celebrate this holiday exactly seven weeks after Groundhog Day, when enough time has passed for the woodchuck to get a bit frisky after a winter of hibernation. On this day, lumberjacks from Maine to Oregon stalk woodchucks to see how much wood a woodchuck chucks, if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

SQUIRREL DAY. Celebrated on July 11, this holiday originated in Toronto, Canada, when a pop singer named Stormy Lea noticed a squirrel outside of her apartment playing with its nuts. Soon she began purchasing hazel nuts for all the squirrels in Toronto. Stormy Lea’s empathy for animals garnered worldwide attention and Squirrel Day has now been adopted by many countries, including Canada, Scotland, Hungary and Jamaica, as an official holiday whereby caring citizens spend the afternoon tossing hazel nuts at the base of trees.

GOPHER DAY: A sycophant is a servile self-serving flatterer. In other words, one who kisses butt to advance oneself. These parasites can be found in government, the military, large corporations, religious institutions, labor unions and socialistic hierarchies. Sycophants are gophers -- go-for this, go-for that. They go along to get along. Their holiday is Flag Day, June 14. Every country has a flag and a desire that their citizens blindly follow the leadership of that country, right or wrong, like proper patriotic sycophants. On Gopher Day, sycophants form large circles of conformity and kiss one another where the sun doesn’t shine. Sycophants salute flags, rebels burn them.

RAT RACE DAY: The world is a gigantic economic engine and those who become caught in it, usually right after high school or college, become cogs in this suffocating organism. Those who are wise enough and brave enough, walk away from the Rat Race to find a better way of life. Thus, Rat Race Day can be any day of the year, but only occurs once (or never) per person. My Rat Race Day is August 30 (many moons ago). I don’t miss the Rat Race, but sometimes I miss the Rats.

SEWER RAT DAY. This is strictly a local holiday for residents of New York City and Newark. Depending on the temperature and humidity, Sewer Rat Day can occur anytime in the late summer, usually in early August. This is the day when the highest concentration of rats emerge from the sewer systems to taunt the citizens of their respective cities. This is also a very special day for pest control companies and alley cats.

MUSKRAT DAY. A muskrat is basically a slippery rat that lives in or near water. Consequently, Muskrat Day is celebrated by slippery people who live clandestinely along rivers or creeks and pay no taxes. This holiday is observed on April 15, when federal taxes are due. The celebration includes drinking tax-free moonshine and taking an annual bath.

SWAMP RAT DAY. A swamp rat is basically a slippery rat that lives in a swamp. Consequently, Swamp Rat Day is observed by slippery people who live clandestinely in the middle of a swamp and pay no taxes. This holiday occurs after the first sign of frog mating season. It’s celebrated by drinking tax-free moonshine and kissing a loved one or a frog, whichever croaks the loudest.

BEAVER DAY. Dam engineers across the nation celebrate this occasion, always the first day in the early winter when the beaver has completed construction of its dam for that year and goes into hibernation. Most dam engineers have been in hibernation since 1939, when construction of the last of the great dams was completed. Rumor has it that some of the more militant dam engineers have formed a secret society, called the Illuminated Damned, that is scheming to create another mighty river system in a secluded location where no one will notice until it has been completed, somewhere like North Dakota or behind the Dick Cheney Library.

MOUSE WEEK. Timid people everywhere celebrate this holiday that coincides with Mardi Gras. Although the festivities are always very restrained, it’s the only rodent holiday that lasts more than one day. Timid people have a hard time releasing their emotions but once they do it lasts for a whole week. They dine on crumbs and avoid mirrors for seven days. Then they apologize for their outburst, usually to a goldfish or a potted plant, and shrink back into their comfortable lives of quiet desperation, patiently waiting for the day when the meek shall inherit the earth.

Quote for the Day – "To regard the lion and the water rats and our fellow men as equals is a magnificent act of a warrior’s spirit. It takes power to do that.” Carlos Castaneda

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and the author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where rodents are on holiday all year. His blogs appear on several websites, including