Despite February being the shortest month of the year (don’t know why we say shortest, who knows how tall any month is really!), it is jam-packed with holidays. Some small, some commercial, some historical, and some I even get a day off work to celebrate. In the middle of winter, this month can bring some rays of sunshine to those stuck in snowstorms, shoveling snow from the sidewalks, and learning to spell “snowpocalypse.” As I began my quest in finding out which days I could put a label on during this most often misspelled and mispronounced month, I was actually impressed by some of the reasons people celebrate. Here’s a quick list of some of the things I may potentially be participating in during the month with the least amount of days because let’s face it….I need some reasons to feel happy this time of year.
This day is set aside for an oft forgotten rodent. Folklore states that on Feb. 2 the groundhog will poke it’s noggin from the ground to offer the superstitious one of two possible predictions — if it’s cloudy, the groundhog will leave it’s burrow and signify that winter weather will quickly come to and end, OR — if it’s sunny, the groundhog will see it’s shadow, be afraid, and scurry back to it’s bunker leaving us with 6 more weeks of winter. While I find that groundhogs can be quite cute, I personally have never seen this ritual take place. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is home to the largest Groundhog Day celebration where folks come from miles away to catch a glimpse of you guessed it — Punxsutawney Phil (a lovable groundhog I’m sure) making weather predictions.
I would say “Bring on the warmer weather Phil!!” but the rationalist in me can’t dispute that fact that regardless of the results there is technically six weeks of winter…count them. Six weeks until March 21 – the official beginning of Spring. How many times can I watch that Bill Murray movie before then?
February 6 – Super Bowl Sunday
This is not an official holiday by any means, but the most celebrated unofficial holiday in the United States. Consider this: for Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, 51.7 million cases of beer were sold in the week before the game. I guess that goes with all the chicken wings, nachos, pizza, chips, and other snacks that comprise the menu at most Super Bowl parties. Sounds good, right? While I’m just starting to appreciate the game of football, I do recognize that this is a perfect “holiday” to spend with friends in front of the TV. So that’s what I’m going to do. This Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will face off against the Green Bay Packers in Dallas, TX for Super Bowl XLV. (That’s 45 for all you that struggle with Roman numerals.) I’ll leave the stats and trash talking to those more adept at doing so, and just say that I’m looking forward to seeing the players in those tight pants, hearing Cristina Aguilera sing the National Anthem, watching the new commercial advertisements, and hoping for another shocker of a Halftime Show (although I doubt anything will beat the Janet/Justin debacle). And I’m especially looking forward to the new episode of Glee that will air after the game. Go Cardinals!! — oh wait, they’re not playing this year…..
February 3 – Chinese New Year
I was born in the year of the dragon. Don’t know if that contributes at all to my fascination with Chinese dragons or my love of Chinese food, but it can’t hurt, right? January 1st marks the beginning of the Western New Year, but in the East the months are calculated differently, zodiac signs are yearly, and they love the dragon dance. One of the most important celebrations in Chinese culture, New Year lasts 15 days, ending with a festival of lanterns. Tradition states that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. I’m hoping I can get around to cleaning (literally and figuratively in the near future for this very reason!) 2011 ushers in the year of the Rabbit, the 4th year in the cycle of the Chinese zodiac. If this “new year” hasn’t been better yet, why not take the opportunity to start over…again. I will.
February 21 – President’s Day
Honestly, I sorta feel jipped that there’s only one holiday to celebrate our Nation’s leaders. Remember the days in elementary school when we would have lessons about George, color pictures of the flag, and eat cherry pie? Then a few days later we would learn about Honest Abe, color pictures of log cabins, and recite the Gettysburg Address. (Tell me I wasn’t the only one to participate in this most heinous of stereotypical rituals.) Why do we mush them together now and only call it President’s Day? We celebrate Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays in the month of February, coincidence I’m sure, and until the late 1980s it was a day each man could call his own. True, we never did get the day off school/work for Lincoln’s birthday (another ironic case of slavery?) but now he’s lumped in mix and our holiday became President’s Day. Alas, we forget other presidents born in February – William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan. However, I still think it would be a good idea to celebrate each President’s birthday separately. I could really use those 3-day weekends.
Officially recognized in 1976, Black History Month aims to bring more public awareness to the individuals and events in the history of the African diaspora. While there is much controversy and debate centered around this celebration of culture and powerful leaders, I just want to say that I find it inspiring. It’s a chance to reflect on the events that I’m sure I couldn’t have lived through, marvel at the spirit of determination it took to rise above the hate, and be in awe of the creativity found in the written and spoken word. Listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, look up Langston Hughes’ poetry, or read anything by Maya Angelou.
I leave you with one of my favorites:
The Lesson – by Maya Angelou
I keep on dying again.
Veins collapse, opening like the
Small fists of sleeping
Memory of old tombs,
Rotting flesh and worms do
Not convince me against
The challenge. The years
And cold defeat live deep in
Lines along my face.
They dull my eyes, yet
I keep on dying,
Because I love to live.
February 3rd – “The Day the Music Died”
February 5th – “World Nutella Day”
February 15th – “National Gumdrop Day”
February 17th – “Random Acts of Kindness Day”
February 28th – “Public Sleeping Day”