In his latest column Dan Franch talks about the importance of cultural traditions, from the eternal disappointment of Groundhog Day to Luxembourg’s equivalent of Burning Man.

Punxsutawney Phil’s a liar. There; I said it. And I mean it.

Who’s he? you might be asking yourself. None other than the bucktoothed burrower that promised an early spring this year. If you’ve seen the Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day,” you know what I’m talking about.

If on February 2 “Pennsylvania’s Furry Fabricator of False Promises” crawls out of his hole there at Gobbler’s Knob and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks till spring. If he doesn’t, and he didn’t this year, spring will come earlier. To be fair, I can’t hold Phil responsible for the weather here in Luxembourg, but one look out my window, and I can see that he wasn’t even close in his prediction. There was that week of sun and relative warmth a fortnight ago, but it was the vernal equivalent of Indian Summer. Let’s call it Cowboy Winter; full of broken promises.

Groundhog Day is one of many informal holidays in the US, though like Valentine’s Day and April Fool’s Day, it is one of the more popular ones. There are plenty of lesser-known ones, deservedly so, I might add. Take for instance Flag Day, Arbor Day, Helen Keller Day, Patriot Day, Constitution Day, Black Friday, and my favourite; German-American Day. Come on – what could be better than Uncle Sam in Stars and Stripes lederhosen.

Our kids know almost none of these days. I even doubt they know who Uncle Sam is. Nothing wrong with that. I’m sure kids in Luxembourg are unaware of some of the country’s quirky informal holidays such as Mantelsonndeg, Halleffaaschten, and Stréihmännchen, Luxembourg’s version of Burning Man.

Nevertheless, in time we’ll make it back to the US and brush up on some American history and traditions. And when we do, we’ll do our best to make a stop in Punxsutawney. We’ll head to Gobbler’s Knob to try and catch a glimpse of that venerable, prevaricating prognosticator.

When we do, I have little doubt that the boys will reply, “The movie was better.”