Today is Groundhog Day, both in a literal and a figurative way. Sometimes it seems as if our society finds itself trapped in time, similar to the protagonist in that Nineties movie starring Bill Murray. We make the same mistakes again and again, forgetting to learn from them. And suddenly, we find ourselves in an endless loop where all that is happening is something we can see coming but can do nothing to change.
In the United States and Canada, February 2 celebrates the popular tradition of predicting how many weeks of winter are left by asking a groundhog (or, in fact, it’s shadow). Starting in the nineteenth century, it probably originated with the German Protestant immigrants who arrived in North America. But this tradition also originates in the Catholic holiday, Candlemas Day. This celebration, in turn, derives from the Roman adaptation of Imbolc, an important Celtic festival marking the approximate halfway point between winter and spring.
The words of the philosopher George Santayana, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it,” could well define the historical moment in which we find ourselves on both sides of the Atlantic. A continuous Groundhog Day, where each time society takes a step forward, there is something that makes it take two steps back: in politics, education, immigration, equality, civil and human rights…
As in the movie, history repeats itself; as individuals, we can review our mistakes to improve our own existence, but as a society, such a review is a duty, since its absence is what brings us to repeat the mistakes that make today’s world a sleepless one.