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News Article
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Hank Foresees Early End To Winter
Written by Jennifer Frieze, Correspondent

            The day after Imbolc, or the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville held a Groundhog Day

Harleysville Order of the Grundsow Schreiber Randy 

Nyce presents Harleysville Hank to the crowd with Hap-

tman Steve Hunsberger, right, at his side.


            On an unusually mild February morning, a jovial crowd gathered to hear Harleysville Hank foretell the coming of spring. Before first light, festivities began with a groundhog blessing by Rev. John Heidgerd and continued with the Barnyard Singers setting an atmosphere of groundhog jubilation.

            "Hank stands before you with a heart full of excitement and a snout filled with optimism. He has enjoyed a meticulous examination of the subtle signs and thorough consultation with his fellow critters," translated Haptman Hunsberger. Hank, with the consultation of his fellow woodland creatures, announced we will be blessed with an early spring.

            The annual event is a way to connect with culture and heritage. It is an uplifting way to promote community. The barn at the heritage center was the center of the activities. It was warmly lit and welcoming for the sunrise.

The Barnyard Singers lead a chorus of groundhog songs

before the annual prediction.

            On the lower level of the barn, local goodies were available for snacking and conversation. Scrapple from Blooming Glen Farms was served with bread and apple butter -- a classic eat of the area. Coffee, hot chocolate, pastries and cookies were also on edible display. An arts and crafts area was set up for the younger community members to enjoy.

            Groundhog Day is a tradition observed in the United States and Canada on the second of February every year. The practice of seeking a sign of an early spring or a late winter stems from the Christian tradition of Candlemas, an observance that some believe has its roots enmeshed in the ancient traditions of the Celts and tradition of Imbolc, while others adhere to the belief that it is an adaptation of a German Candlemas tradition involving a badger.

            Tuning into nature, humans would look for signs as to when the weather would shift and the land would wake from her winter slumber. All food comes from the earth

Jim King adds ingredients as Christianna Carfagno, a 

guest of the event, stirs the kettle of scrapple which was 

served to attendees.

and that is dependent on the seasons. Spring is met with a welcomed embrace.

            Hank, and other furry rascals of his kind, have announced an early spring. The signs might be abstruse, but the signs of warmer weather and long days of sunshine are emerging. Another reason for us all to practice gratitude.

            Next year, if you're looking for a unique and fun event, bring the family and check out the groundhog festivities at the Mennonite Heritage Center. You won't regret getting up before sunrise to see Hank and hear his prognostication.






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