Everything You Need to Know About Groundhog Day

Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Albrecht Powell

Every year on February 2, exactly halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox, Americans eagerly await the emergence of Punxsutawney Phil, the Western Pennsylvania groundhog who predicts the conclusion of winter by seeing his own shadow. Whether or not you believe in the folklore, Groundhog Day is a cherished tradition with a long history and international renown, primarily due to the 1993 hit movie, “Groundhog Day.”

Although the holiday, as it is today, is a uniquely American tradition, the history stretches hundreds of years back before the first Europeans ever crossed the Atlantic.

Religious Beginnings

The roots of Groundhog Day go all the way back to a different celebration, the Christian feast day of Candlemas. On February 2, Christians traditionally bring candles to their local church to be blessed, which in turn bring light and warmth to the home for the remainder of winter.

At some point, a Candlemas folk song appeared in England that added the element of weather forecast to the holiday:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

Due to the song, the connection between Candlemas and the beginning of spring spread across all of Europe, but still without any connection to an animal.

Introduction of the Groundhog

Germany created its own interpretation of Candlemas and incorporated small hibernating animals into the lore, such as hedgehogs. If a hedgehog emerged on February 2 and saw its own shadow, there would be six more weeks of cold weather. If it didn’t see its own shadow, then spring would come early.

As early German immigrants arrived in America and settled in what is now Pennsylvania, Candlemas is just one of the many customs they brought with them. Because hedgehogs are native to Europe and don’t exist in the wild in North America, the German settlers searched for another burrowing animal in the area to consult and found the groundhog.

First Groundhog Day

The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1886, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper’s editor, Clymer Freas: “Today is Groundhog Day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow.” Exactly one year later, townspeople made the first trip to Gobbler’s Knob, the hill where the famous groundhog emerges from, and thus began the modern tradition of Groundhog Day. The local paper proclaimed that Punxsutawney Phil, as he was affectionately named, was the one and only official weather prognosticating groundhog.

Phil’s fame began to spread and newspapers from around the world began to report his predictions. Growing legions of fans started making the trek to Punxsutawney every February 2, and with the release of the movie “Groundhog Day,” the crowds began to number in the tens of thousands. Phil’s yearly Groundhog Day predictions are even entered into the Congressional Record.

Groundhog Day Inspectors with Groundhog
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Punxsutawney Groundhog Day Celebration

Many major news networks show the festivities for viewers to watch live online or on TV from the comfort of your own home, which takes place at 7:25 a.m. Eastern time.

If you want to catch a glimpse of Phil’s prediction in person, arrive in Punxsutawney a few hours early or, ideally, at least the day before. Thousands of tourists descend on the small town each February, so lodging and parking are severely limited. Several shuttles provide transportation throughout the morning from the town center to Gobbler’s Knob.

If you decide to spend a few days in Punxsutawney, you’ll see that the celebrations are stretched out across the week. A city-wide festival in the days leading up to February 2 includes ice carving sculpture competitions, food tours, wine tasting, kids’ scavenger hunts, live music concerts, and more.

Punxsutawney Phil

The groundhog’s full name is actually “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather-Prophet Extraordinary.” It was so proclaimed by the “Punxsutawney Groundhog Club” in 1887, the same year they declared Punxsutawney to be the weather capital of the world.

For most of the year, Phil lives in a climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library. He is taken to Gobbler’s Knob and placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on stage before being pulled out at 7:25 a.m. on Groundhog Day, February 2, to make his prediction.

Phil is reputed by townspeople to be more than 100 years old, surviving far beyond a marmot’s normal life span.

Source: Groundhog Day: Origins, Facts, and Punxsutawney Phil (thoughtco.com)

26 Plants You Should Always Grow Side-By-Side

by The House Beautiful Editors

a close up of a flower garden: Companion planting uses one species' advantages to help another. Check out these 13 power pairs!
© Willowpix – Getty Images

Seasoned gardeners know that a diverse mix of plants makes for a healthy and beautiful garden. Many believe that certain plant combinations have extraordinary (even mysterious) powers to help each other grow. Scientific study of the process, called companion planting, has confirmed that some combinations have real benefits unique to those pairings.

Companions help each other grow and use garden space efficiently. Tall plants, for example, provide shade for sun-sensitive shorter plants. Vines can cover the ground while tall stalks grow skywards, allowing two plants to occupy the same patch.

Some couplings also prevent pest problems. Plants can repel harmful organisms or lure the bad bugs away from more delicate species.

These combinations of plants do way better, together:

Roses and Garlic

Gardeners have been planting garlic with roses for eons since the bulbs can help to repel rose pests. Garlic chives are probably just as repellent, and their small purple or white flowers in late spring look great with rose flowers and foliage.

Marigolds and Melons

Certain marigold varieties control nematodes in the roots of melon without using chemical treatments.

Tomatoes and Cabbage

Tomatoes repel diamondback moth larvae, which can chew large holes in cabbage leaves.

Cucumbers and Nasturtiums

The nasturtium’s vining stems make them a great companion rambling among your growing cucumbers and squash plants, suggests Sally Jean Cunningham, master gardener and author of Great Garden Companions>>>P. Nasturtiums reputedly repel cucumber beetles, but they can also serve as a habitat for predatory insects like spiders and ground beetles.

Peppers and Pigweed

Leafminers preferred both pigweed (also called amaranthus) and ragweed to pepper plants in a study at the Coastal Plains Experiment Station in Tifton, Georgia. Just be careful to remove the flowers before the weeds set seed.

Cabbage and Dill

“Dill is a great companion for cabbage family plants, such as broccoli and brussels sprouts,” Cunningham says. The cabbages support the floppy dill, while the dill attracts the helpful wasps that control cabbage worms and other pests.

Corn and Beans

The beans attract beneficial insects that prey on corn pests such as leafhoppers, fall armyworms, and leaf beetles. The vines can also climb up the corn stalks.

Lettuce and Tall Flowers

Nicotiana (flowering tobacco) and cleome (spider flower) give lettuce the light shade it grows best in.

Radishes and Spinach

Planting radishes among your spinach will draw leafminers away from the healthy greens>>>P. The damage the leafminers do to radish leaves doesn’t prevent the radishes from growing nicely underground.

Potatoes and Sweet Alyssum

The sweet alyssum has tiny flowers that attract delicate beneficial insects>>>P, such as predatory wasps. Plant sweet alyssum alongside bushy crops like potatoes>>>P, or let it spread to form a living ground cover under arching plants like broccoli. Bonus: The alyssum’s sweet fragrance will scent your garden all summer longer.

Cauliflower and Dwarf Zinnias

The nectar from the dwarf zinnias lures ladybugs and other predators that help protect cauliflower>>>P.

Collards and Catnip

Studies have found that planting catnip alongside collards reduces flea-beetle damage on the collards. The fragrant plant may also help repel mosquitoes>>>P.

Strawberries and Love-In-A-Mist

Tall, blue-flowered love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)”looks wonderful planted in the center of a wide row of strawberries,” Cunningham says.

Source: 26 Plants You Should Always Grow Side-By-Side (msn.com)

Welcome to Easy English Level 3

This will be a new, continuing feature for tutoringyou.org readers. Easy to read and understand, this feature introduces you to words you may not have seen or used before. It is in story format with level 1 on Mondays, Level 2 on Tuesdays, and Level 3 on Wednesday. Each Level more harder than the previous Level. Not to worry, though. The new words are linked to their definitions, so I think you will be able to read at your Level without much difficulty. Always attempt to read at the higher Level. That’s how quicker learning is accomplished. Good luck and have fun learning English !

Dalai Lama Speaks with Greta – level 3

Dalai Lama Speaks with Greta

20-01-2021

Last week, the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, virtually met the Swedish climate activist and one of the world´s most recognizable individuals, Greta Thunberg.

They were joined by two leading climate scientists for a discussion titled ´The Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops´. The Dalai Lama honored the courage that Thunberg and millions of young people around the world were demonstrating by standing up for and demanding climate justice. His primary message throughout the event was that all 7.8 billion humans needed to think and act as a single community.

The Dalai Lama said that he felt real hope after hearing Thunberg speak while Thunberg urged people to educate themselves on climate issues.

Difficult words: recognizable (somebody who people can immediately identify), climate feedback loop (something that speeds up or slows down a climate change), climate justice (a term that is used to frame global warming as an ethical and political issue rather than a purely environmental or natural issue).

Source: Dalai Lama Speaks with Greta – level 3 | News in Levels

Happy National Chocolate Cake Day 2021

By Alexis Ty  for IBT™

  Photo: Mastro’s Restaurants 

KEY POINTS

  • There are several ways to up one’s chocolate cake game
  • The right measurement of ingredients is key in making the perfect chocolate cake
  • Even the temperature of the ingredients plays a part in baking the perfect cake

Chocolate cake is a classic favorite, and many chefs and amateur cooks have made their own versions of this delicious treat over the years. National Chocolate Cake Day is celebrated every Jan. 27 to commemorate the baked good loved across the country and around the world.

To celebrate the occasion this Wednesday, here are 12 secrets to making a cake the best and chocolatiest it can be for National Chocolate Cake Day:

1. Use the best chocolate available

Since chocolate is the main flavor one will be tasting, make sure that the quality of the chocolate to be used in the cake is of high quality. A good rule of thumb is to use chocolate that one wouldn’t mind snacking on from a bowl. This ensures that the batter, frosting or filling of the cake will be top-notch.

2. Use high-quality unsweetened cocoa

The deep, rich flavor that comes with chocolate cake is from cocoa, and the darker the hue of the cocoa, the more satisfying the flavor will be, according to Mashed.com. Using unsweetened cocoa will allow one to gauge how much additional sugar is needed to get the best result.

3. Measure flour and sugar carefully

The right measurement is key in making the perfect chocolate cake. Using too much sugar will make the crust too dark, while putting in less sugar will prevent the cake from getting that rich hue always present in good chocolate cake, Domino Sugar said. As for flour, adding too much will cause the top of the cake to crack.

4. Dust parchment-lined pan with cocoa instead of flour

Dusting the pan with flour before adding the batter will help in getting a clean release after baking, but cocoa powder does a good job of it as well. A bonus when using cocoa powder for chocolate cake is that it provides more depth of flavor, per the Los Angeles Times.

5. Mayonnaise is instrumental in making a moist cake

Mayonnaise can add to the moisture of a cake, although this practice is less popular with modern bakers. Follow this homemade mayonnaise recipe to see if it works for you.

6. Add a dash of sea salt

One should never forget salt when baking a cake. Even though the recipe for chocolate cake only requires a small amount of it, don’t underestimate the richness salt can bring to the table. It acts as a flavor enhancer and makes the cocoa more prominent while balancing out the sweetness of the cake.

7. Milk is necessary

Milk gives the cake its creamy texture so a lot of recipes call for bakers to include it or some other type of dairy in their cake-baking process.

8. Use shiny pans

When baking chocolate cake, opt for shiny pans instead of dark ones. Dark-colored pans absorb more of the oven’s heat, which could cause premature over-browning.

9. Use room temperature ingredients

Even the temperature of the ingredients plays a part in baking the perfect cake. Using eggs, butter and dairy ingredients that are at room temperature will create an emulsion that traps air, which eventually expands with the oven’s heat, resulting in a chocolate cake that’s fluffy.

10. Start and end with the dry ingredients

When adding in the wet and dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar mixture for cake, be sure to alternate between the dry and the wet, beginning with the dry and ending with the dry as well.

11. Vanilla extract can be skipped

If you wish to experience the rich flavor of chocolate in all its glory, opt not to add vanilla extract to the mixture.

12. Don’t over mix the batter

Chocolate cake batter should never be overmixed as this could lead to tough cake textures.

Source: National Chocolate Cake Day 2021: 12 Baking Secrets To Making The Chocolatiest Cake (ibtimes.com)

Welcome to Easy English Level 2

This will be a new, continuing feature for tutoringyou.org readers. Easy to read and understand, this feature introduces you to words you may not have seen or used before. It is in story format with level 1 on Mondays, Level2 on Tuesdays, and Level 3 on Wednesday. Each Level more harder than the previous Level. Not to worry, though. The new words are linked to their definitions, so I think you will be able to read at your Level without much difficulty. Always attempt to read at the higher Level. That’s how quicker learning is accomplished. Good luck and have fun learning English !

Dalai Lama Speaks with Greta – level 2

Dalai Lama Speaks with Greta

20-01-2021

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet, and he is interested in global problems. Last week, he spoke to Greta Thunberg. Greta Thunberg is a Swedish girl who became a leader of young people who wanted to stop climate change.

The Dalai Lama, Thunberg, and two scientists spoke about the climate crisis. The Dalai Lama said that Thunberg was a very brave young woman and that she gave him hope for a better future.

The Dalai Lama said that all people in the world had to think and work together. Thunberg said that people needed to learn more about climate problems and do something to stop them.

Difficult words: climate change (the change of usual weather of the planet), climate crisis (the changes of the usual weather of the planet which are dangerous for people, and it is not possible to stop them), hope (the feeling that something good will happen).

Source: Dalai Lama Speaks with Greta – level 2 | News in Levels

Welcome to Easy English

This will be a new, continuing feature for tutoringyou.org readers. Easy to read and understand, this feature introduces you to words you may not have seen or used before. It is in story format with level 1 on Mondays, Level2 on Tuesdays, and Level 3 on Wednesday. Each Level more harder than the previous Level. Not to worry, though. The new words are linked to their definitions, so I think you will be able to read at your Level without much difficulty. Always attempt to read at the higher Level. That’s how quicker learning is accomplished. Good luck and have fun learning English !

Dalai Lama Speaks with Greta – level 1

Dalai Lama Speaks with Greta

20-01-2021

The Dalai Lama is the leader of Tibet. Buddhists choose him as their leader. He is not an official leader because Tibet belongs to China. The Dalai Lama is 85 years old.

Greta Thunberg comes from Sweden. She is 18 years old. She is an environmental activist. It means that she wants to make political changes and protect our planet.

She speaks to politicians about climate problems. Many people in the world know Greta. They want to be like Greta. They care about the environment.

The Dalai Lama speaks with Greta. The Dalai Lama thinks that all people in the world must work together. He believes that young people can change the world. Greta says that all people must learn about climate problems.

Difficult words: protect (to keep something well and safe), climate problems (problems with the air, water, and weather on the planet), environment (the natural world).

Source: Dalai Lama Speaks with Greta – level 1 | News in Levels

Six Houseplant Mistakes to Avoid This Winter

By Kelly Manning for Martha Stewart™


Winter’s harsh elements can be taxing on our plants—even those we keep indoors. To prevent damaging (or worse, killing) your houseplants this season, we outlined the most commonly made mistakes to avoid, complete with insight from a garden expert.

© Provided by Martha Stewart Living Getty / Geshas

Overwatering

No matter the time of year, overwatering your plants can cause significant damage, including root rot. This, however, becomes particularly problematic in the winter. “People are used to a regular watering cadence during the spring and summer, when plants are actively growing,” explains Joyce Mast, an expert with Bloomscape. “But in the winter, plants go into a more dormant state. They are not regularly producing new leaves, or flower buds, so they don’t require as much water.” Sticking your fingers in the soil in order to get a sense of the moisture level is a tried-and-true method for determining whether or not your varieties are thirsty. “You’re able to bring most plants back from underwatering, but once the roots start to rot from excess water, it’s very difficult to remedy,” notes Mast.

Persistent Dry Air

Between a loss of moisture in the environment and streams of warm air pumping from heating vents, a perpetual lack of humidity leaves plants dehydrated during the colder months. Increase indoor moisture levels by placing a water-filled pebble tray underneath a pot or group several plants around a tray of water. Alternatively, set up a humidifier in your space, which provides a constant flow of moisture into the air. For an added bonus, regularly spritz leaves with water, which, says Mast, is a “nice way to maintain a regular interaction with your plants” during the winter, when they require less care. However, this should not replace any of our suggested steps for increasing humidity, as mist from a spray bottle quickly evaporates.

Letting Your Plants Collect Dust

It’s not uncommon to notice an increase in your home’s dust level during the winter and, in turn, a build-up of grime on leaves. This is the result of a sealed indoor environment and heating vents, which blow around the accumulated particles. Clean these green parts with a damp paper towel or cloth regularly, as insects, such as spider mites, can easily hide in the dust.

Situating Plants Close to Heating Vents and Windows

Be careful not to place your plants in a direct, or indirect, line of warm air, which will quickly dry them out. Similarly, when they are situated too close to a fireplace, such as on the mantel, they can also become too dry too fast. Be cognizant of cold air drafts as well, which “can shock the plant and damage leaf tissue,” adds Mast.

Continuing to Use Fertilizer

Our houseplants enter into a state of dormancy during the winter, which means they don’t require fertilizer like they do in the spring or summer. Therefore, any extra nutrients will not be absorbed and instead “sit in the soil and damage the roots,” says Mast.

Overlooking a Change in Light Levels

Not all plants like direct sunlight. While you may have found the perfect spot to situate a pot during the spring and summer, it’s important to survey the lighting conditions now that trees are bare of leaves. If your variety is receiving too much sun, move it to a shadier spot in your home.

Source: Six Houseplant Mistakes to Avoid This Winter (msn.com)

Eating This Popular Food Will Put You in the Worst Mood

Article by Clara Olshansky  for EatThisNotThat!

You probably know that what you eat can have a huge impact on your mood. Considering the fact that 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut, it’s no wonder that some gut-healthy foods can be real mood-boosters, while others can put a real damper on your day. Now, researchers have determined the number one food most likely to put you in a bad mood, and the Homer Simpsons of the world are going to be seriously disappointed.

© Provided by Eat This, Not That!


A study commissioned by the natural food brand Kallo and conducted by market research company OnePoll, asked 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom which foods or beverages have the most positive impact on their emotions, and which have the most negative. It turns out that the single worst food for your mood, according to the poll, is donuts.

Maybe it’s because we tend to eat them in the morning, with a whole day in front of us to experience the resulting sugar crash. Maybe it’s the combination of simple carbs and heavy oils, two well-known gut health disruptors. Either way, if you’re like most people, you’re generally going to want to skip the run to Dunkin’ if you want to feel your best.

Many of the other bad mood–causing foods on the list are somewhat predictable. The silver and bronze go to alcohol and soft drinks respectively, with energy drinks coming in fourth place. Most of the foods on the list beyond that are highly processed meals and snacks, full of simple carbs and saturated fats which can cause inflammation, sluggishness, indigestion, and other negative physical side effects.

When it comes to mood-improving foods and drinks, the study finds that coffee is the number one choice, with dark chocolate coming in second place, and grapes in third. For more foods that will help you live your best, happiest life, check out our 13 Mood-Boosting Snacks to Make Your Day Better.

Source: Eating This Popular Food Will Put You in the Worst Mood, Data Finds (msn.com)

5 Tips to Keep a Mask From Fogging Up Your Glasses

By Chris Kissell for MoneyTalksNews

Wearing a mask in public is annoying enough — but an irritating side effect makes the practice even worse for those who wear eyeglasses or sunglasses.

© dissx / Shutterstock.com

As anyone who dons spectacles quickly realizes, wearing a mask can cause your lenses to fog. Every time you breathe, the warm air you exhale travels into the mask, then up and out, onto your lenses. Because the lenses are cooler, fog forms inside.

Fortunately, the following fixes can prevent this annoyance.

1. Soap and water

A 2011 study published in the journal Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England found that a little soap and water goes a long way toward eliminating unwanted fogging. According to the study authors:

“Immediately before wearing a face mask, wash the spectacles with soapy water and shake off the excess. Then, let the spectacles air dry or gently dry off the lenses with a soft tissue before putting them back on. Now the spectacle lenses should not mist up when the face mask is worn.”

One caveat: Although dish soap typically is recommended for this technique, it’s important to choose a brand that does not use lotion, which can harm the lenses. Lukewarm water also is recommended, as hot water can damage lenses too.

2. Anti-fog spray

Sprays also are available to keep your lenses fog-free. You can find anti-fog sprays at Amazon.

Just note that these can irritate the eyes of some people, so they may not work for everyone.

3. Tuck a small tissue into the mask

Newsweek says tucking a small tissue inside the mask will absorb moisture that otherwise would find its way to the lenses.

The publication recommends placing a folded tissue at the top of your mask and taping it there.

4. Slide your glasses further down your nose

By sliding your spectacles a little lower down your nose, you can keep them out of the way of the moist air escaping out the top of the mask.

This is probably not an ideal long-term solution, but it works in a pinch.

5. Modify the mask to better fit your face

Finally, Glamour says a mask that fits your face more snugly is less likely to produce fogging. So, if the mask has a wire inside the top edge, pinch it tightly to your nose.

If your mask doesn’t have a wire, Glamour recommends a tutorial that can help you create a mask with a “flexible nose.”

Source: 5 Tips to Keep a Mask From Fogging Up Your Glasses (msn.com)