Two Offbeat American Holidays…..Back To Back

A Super Bowl stadium collaged with two images depicting Groundhog Day
A Super Bowl stadium collaged with two images depicting Groundhog Day

Winter

Winter is 13 weeks long….and depending where you live – this can be a short 13 weeks or a very long thirteen weeks. Also part of the equation is whether you enjoy outdoor winter sports……or not. For an avid skier, a warm winter with no snow can make for a very long winter and an economically bad season, as well, especially…. if he or she happens to be employed with the ski industry. However, for the most of the rest of us, it is a long ways from the winter solstice to the spring equinox. Perhaps, this explains why there are so many joyous holiday within this time period. Without Christmas, New Years Day, Valentines Day and St. Patrick’s Day, this quarter of the year would be a whole lot, less bearable.

Midwinter

Strangely enough,  two of our most offbeat holidays occur right at the midwinter mark. In fact, this year they fall on consecutive days. If you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhogs Day, which just happen to respectively occur on the first and second day of February. The combination of the two just might maks for a great way to revel in the fact that winter is half over.

Bad Year For the NFL

A recent news story about the jurors in the Aaron Hernandez trial illustrates just how low the NFL has fallen during the current season. Judy Garsh, judge for the Hernandez trial, has ruled that the jurors can watch the Super Bowl, only if the name of Aaron Hernandez is not mentioned. And, if one of the newscasters has a slip of the tongue, then the unlucky viewers will  have to turn the game off. Now that’s bizarre. Combine this situation with all the sex abuse allegations and the recent deflate-gate controversy surrounding the Patriots victory over the Colts and it becomes quite clear that the NFL commissioners (and many fans as well) with have very good reason to celebrate Groundhogs Day on Monday. Yeah!!!! the season’s finally over.

A Cult Movie Accents an Offbeat Holiday

Look through the comedy section of any movie DVD store (or online site) and you will see hundreds of listings with catchy titles that fail to deliver. Strangely enough, one of the perennial favorites is Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. When first released in 19992, the movie was well received and got favorable reviews. Since then the film has grown in stature, so that nowadays, the popular fantasy fare is consistently listed as one of the top ten comedies and sometimes even included as one of the ten best films ever. So if you have yet to see this film, you might want to give it a viewing. And if one of the announcers slips up and mentions Aaron Hernandez’s name, you can show solidarity with the 18 jurors and turn off the sports contest and put on the groundhog movie.

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Too Bad It Only Happens Every Four Years

Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Sochi, source Kremblin, from Wikipedia
Fireworks at the opening o the 2014 winter Olympics, photo from Kremblin.re courtesy of wilipedia
Fireworks at the opening o the 2014 winter Olympics, photo from Kremblin.re courtesy of wilipedia

Skating Under the Palms

Actually, the competitors are not performing directly under the palms. Instead, the skating events take place underneath the roof of a multi-million dollar sports complex, specially built for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. It’s only when the athletes walk outside that they encounter the swaying palms, stately standing beside the shores of the Black Sea. This unusual situation is due to the fact that Sochi is a port city, situated at almost exactly the same latitude as Nice, France……..and much like its Mediterranean counterpart, Sochi is a coastal resort that quickly gives way to massive 5,000 foot peaks, which are snow-covered during the winter months. This is where all the alpine events take place….at a previous existing ski resort, called Roza Khutor located at Krasnaya, Polyana.   

The ski resort of Roza Khutor at Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Russia, photo from wikipedia.
The ski resort of Roza Khutor at Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Russia, photo from wikipedia.

Most Expensive Olympics Ever

The original sum allotted by the Russians for building and improving the Olympic site came in at 12 billion. However, that figure has been far surpassed with the total cost estimate now exceeding 50 billion. No host nation has ever spent this much on a sporting event that only lasts two weeks. Nonetheless, the facilities will undoubtedly remain in place for many years to come, so that many other sporting events can take place at these sites.

Promenade_and_beach_in_Sochi during the summertime
Promenade and beach in Sochi during the summertime
photo by RIA Novosti archive, from wikipedia

On Second Thought

Considering all the money that Russia has poured into building the appropriate sports venues, hotels and even upgrading the electric grid for Sochi and the surrounding area, it is probably a good thing that these world events only occur every four years. Not only does this save money, but also the extra time allows  athletes plenty of time to train and prepare for the various contests. Besides the four year wait adds to the drama, when finally the next set of games rolls around and viewers from all around the world can watch the action and rout for their favorite participants and nation (and or nations).

Go Team USA.

Russian ruble printed for Sochi Winter Olympics, from Wikipedia
Sochi Russian ruble printed for Sochi Winter Olympics, from Wikipedia