Michael Scott Groundhog Day? Celebrated Privately, Of Course

Groundhog Day (available at Amazon) is a 1993 comedy about a guy stuck in a time-loop. With Bill Murray leading, it’s popularity with both critics and general audiences is not surprising. The same can be said of the TV series, The Office, and Steve Carrel. Carrel’s Michael says many memorable, hilarious, and oft cringy lines, including an odd one about Groundhog Day. What is the Michael Scott Groundhog Day “celebrated privately” all about?

Michael Scott Groundhog Day bit is from The Office‘s Moroccan Christmas episode. When Oscar, Toby, Jim, and Michael discuss an intervention for Meredith, Jim sheepishly asks, ‘would you want to do it on Groundhogs day?’ Michael says no because he celebrates privately, causing much speculation.

As an Office fan and a person somewhat knowledgeable about Groundhog Day (being a teacher, we taught it every February), plus one of my favorite movies of all time is 1993’s Groundhog Day, I admit this episode piqued my interest. It seems I’m not alone either, judging by the internet speculation surrounding this subject.

Below I’ll share with you my thoughts on this episode tidbit and what I think Michael does to celebrate Groundhog Day. And a bit about what I’ve learned from my internet dig on the subject, too and some random info about Groundhog Day the holiday and movie.  


The Office Celebrations – I Celebrate Privately

Aired Dec. 11, 2008, The Office episode titled, ‘Moroccan Christmas’, features Michael’s tidbit about Groundhog Day. (~7:15).

The American TV show, The Office, enjoyed almost immediate success at first running, but is also extremely popular in syndication. In fact, through continual runs on various cable channels and via streaming companies, The Office has gained more fans and increased its popularity exponentially over the years.

One thing that is particularly an ‘Office fan’ favorite is to analyze Michael Scott-isms. That is, to pick out and dissect the odd and quirky things Michael says and does. This makes Michael a more real and well-rounded character, if not also eccentric, sometimes racist/sexist, and even lovable, a lot like everyone’s favorite, embarrassing ‘crazy uncle’.

Fans of The Office noted Michael Scott’s odd response to holding an intervention for Meredith on Groundhog Day in the ‘Moroccan Christmas’ Office episode. Without second thought, Michael says he celebrates privately on Groundhog Day and can’t do the intervention February 2nd then.

Fans immediately latched on to this small ‘aside’ from Michael, wondering how does he celebrate privately for Groundhog Day.

In an internet search, I found some funny albeit weird suggestions, that seemed true to Michael’s character.

  • Michael digs a hole in his back yard (or common area of the condo complex, that is) in the wee morning hours of February 2nd, then jumps out of the hole at dawn to see if he sees his shadow.

  • Michael drives around town trying to locate a Blockbuster in order to rent Groundhog Day with Bill Murray (of course he has no clue that Blockbuster has long went out of business.)

  • Michael goes to a pet store to try to rent a groundhog in order to see if he (the groundhog)

  • sees his shadow on Feb. 2nd, but he’s clear that he wants to only rent the groundhog and return it the next day.

  • Michael believes he can relive his personal Groundhog Day and the Office crew goes along with it.

  • Michael orders a Groundhog Day birthday cake and blows out the 150 plus candles by himself, only to set a fire every year, almost like a ‘groundhog day’ moment in his mind.

  • Each year Michael hunts groundhogs on the evening prior to Groundhog Day, looking for a groundhog to see its shadow, only he never finds any.

Regardless of what Michael Scott on The Office actually does to celebrate Groundhog Day privately (since the truth can’t be known as Michael doesn’t tell us, the viewers), it’s clear that he considers the holiday worthy of celebration, much like Cinco de Mayo, Diwali, Christmas, and every staff members’ birthdays.

The Office has many ‘office’ celebrations for holidays and events ‘not celebrated privately’, though. Episodes over the years have been dedicated to showing parties or festivities for such holidays as Christmas, Diwali, Halloween, and St. Valentine’s Day.

As well, days like Secretary’s Day, Women’s Appreciation, Olympics, and even Christening, Weddings, and Baby showers have garnered parties or special attention.

One thing is for certain about having Michael Scott as a boss: he will gladly encourage his staff to play together rather than work together whether it’s Groundhog Day or not!

How Is Groundhog Day Celebrated?

Perhaps nowhere on Earth is Groundhog Day celebrated with such festivity as it’s done at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Groundhog Day is celebrated unlike any other holiday in the US. It’s designated officially on February 2nd. Since 1887, a ceremony is held at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. At daybreak, a specially appointed groundhog named ‘Phil’ is pulled out of a hole and watched to see if his shadow is present or not.

If the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2nd, then six more weeks of winter is predicted. If not, spring is expected early. 

According to the local tradition, the groundhog has been coming up with forecasts for over a century. This is as he sips a mystic elixir each summer to help him live longer. Yet, based on track record, the success rate of Phil the groundhog for giving correct weather predictions is less than fifty percent. 

The town celebrates with all the pomp and circumstance one could expect as all eyes of the US are turned to Phil and Punxsutawney this one day of the year. So with marching bands, parade, balloons and streamers, and men in tuxes, the show is one for the cameras for sure!

Of course the townsfolk enjoy the spotlight too as business is brisk on and around Groundhog Day, too. From restaurants and cafes selling hot chocolates and coffees to the hotels and bed and breakfasts booking up rooms to capacity, there’s a lot to thank Phil for, whether or not his weather predications are accurate!

Why Didn’t They Film Groundhog Day In Punxsutawney?

The 1993 Groundhog Day was not actually filmed in Punxsutawney, but mostly in Woodstock, Illinois instead.

According to Harold Ramis, the director of Groundhog Day, the film was not shot in Punxsutawney, since the area lacked a town center that would look great on camera. Instead he chose Woodstock, Illinois for the film because in Ramis words, it visually represented everything he wanted.

Woodstock not only had the quintessential town square, pivotal for Ramis’ Groundhog Day film, but also had the surrounding small-town businesses and houses that fit the director’s vision for the movie.

Thus, Woodstock is famously linked to Groundhog Day and tourists visit every year to see ‘Groundhog Day’ in person. From the gazebo to the benches to the street corners, including one named ‘Ned’s Corner’ from the movie, the town still looks every bit like it did in 1993, much to the delight of fans.

What Is The Lesson Of The Groundhog Day Movie?

Weatherman Phil in the movie, Groundhog Day, used his Groundhog Day time-loop to learn many lessons, like piano playing; foreign languages; and reciting poetry. But the life lesson he learned for helping others was the greatest of all.

There are many lessons to learn from Groundhog Day. How many of us think ‘if only’? Groundhog Day teaches us that even if we can’t do it right the first time, then we can still try in order to be a better person. But ultimately, it’s about putting the well being of others before ourselves.

Some people think Groundhog Day is a love story, but it’s not (even though the main character finds love). In fact, the internal change that occurs in Phil is what makes him worthy of love. Really Groundhog Day is a lesson about caring about other people and truly living the moments when we encounter them.

But a movie like Groundhog Day can teach us many things. Here are some other lessons Phil the Weatherman learns in Groundhog Day, and that we can learn too:

  • Always Make Good Use of Your Free Time

At times you may wait for a bigger opportunity to present itself in your life. Or, you may just wander around your home and do nothing while you are not at work. That isn’t good for you or the people around you. 

As Phil was going through an endless bad ordeal, he had a lot of time. And he finally used time in his favor so he could be a better version of himself. He decided to learn a new language, took piano lessons, plus other skills as depicted in the movie.

This only means, when you still have the time, always do whatever fascinates you.

  • Be Optimistic 

As the movie starts, Phil seems sarcastic and self-involved. This only makes him more unhappy as he remains in town for so long.

However, the moment he conquers the dark period, things change for the better. In the end, he enjoys himself and also gives a touchy broadcast that praises the good aspects of the winter season. He can demonstrate that there is always another chance to be on your best behavior. 

So even when things aren’t the way you want them or when things get really bad, remember perspective can alter reality to some degree. Although a positive outlook won’t make a lot of difference in the short term (your dead car battery won’t instantly work just because you’re smiling), it can help motivate you past the bad experiences you currently are enduring.

And of course, if you ask those around you, they certainly prefer being around an optimistic person over a negative one.

  • Avoid Planning for a Perfect Day Ahead 

If you have ever tried to make a perfect day, you probably know just how difficult (and often futile) that can be. Just ask any bride how frustrating it is to learn it’s going to rain on her wedding day despite her best efforts to thwart ‘Mother Nature’!

Well, Phil strives to create perfect days too, in Groundhog Day. However, no matter how perfect it gets (and he gets pretty darn close from his multiple do-overs), a perfect day doesn’t stop the time-loop.

So yes, it’s good to be prepared and organized when possible, but we shouldn’t let the quest for perfection keep us from experiencing life to the fullest along the way.

Life certainly isn’t about one day…it’s about a lifetime of days!

What Is The Lesson of Michael Scott’s Celebration of Groundhog Day?

We can learn from Michael Scott’s celebration of Groundhog Day, private or not, that minor holidays can be good for us. Celebrations bring joy to our regular lives. It’s a cause for taking time to be thankful whether alone or not. So go ahead and celebrate the little things in life, too.

Wrapping Up Michael’s Groundhog Day Is Celebrated Privately

So to wrap it up, Michael Scott mentions that he celebrates Groundhog Day every year, privately. He acknowledges the holiday and gives it attention much like he does St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas.

Ever since this tidbit was divulged on The Office Moroccan Christmas episode in season five, fans have speculated just how does Michael Scott celebrate Groundhog Day privately?

Some suggestions have been that Michael drives around every February 2nd looking for an open Blockbuster in order to rent the movie; or that he digs a hole in his condo ‘common area’ and pops out at dawn to see his shadow (or not); and even that maybe he just blows out the candles on a Groundhog Day cake by himself!

So whatever you think about ‘Michael Scott and Groundhog Day,’, I hope you enjoy yours come next Feb. 2nd!

To read next, I recommend these related holiday articles:

Sources TV Tropes

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