I must have blinked because here we are in February. This is good news in my opinion as it means the days are lengthening and we are slowly getting closer to my favorite seasons of spring and summer. And I am sure everyone is aware that today, February 2nd, is Groundhog Day! Let’s hope Punxsutawney Phil, that most famous of all weather-predicting mammals, cooperates for an early spring by not seeing his shadow today.
We all know that February is the shortest month with only 28 days, unless it is a leap year which we can look forward to in 2024. However, did you know that the original calendar of the Roman Empire did not recognize February or January? Their year only had 10 months because the Romans just counted winter as one long dreary month! Around 700 years before Christ, this changed when the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius, decided to add more months to the end of the year in order to conform to how long it actually takes Earth to go around the sun. Both January and February were both originally only given 28 days each, which changed in the year 46 BC when Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar system—the Julian calendar. Ten days were added to the year, leap day was introduced, and the calendar evolved into the one we recognize today. Interestingly, March 1 was celebrated as the first day of the Roman year until 153 BC. The name of February comes from the Latin word “februum,” which means purification and it was named after a Roman purification or spring cleaning festival. Fast forward to modern times and we find ourselves in February 2023, unbelievably three years since we started to seriously worry about COVID-19 in the USA and the world changed forever.
The birth flowers for those enjoying a February birthday are violets, symbolizing faithful love, truth, loyalty and humility; iris representing hope, faith, passion, purity and innocence; and primroses for affection, young love and undying affection.
The traditional birthstone for people born in February is the purple amethyst – the purple variety of quartz which ranges from light lavender to deep purple and which can be mined or made in a laboratory. The name “amethyst” derives from the Greek amethystos, which means “a remedy against drunkenness,” a benefit long ascribed to the purple birthstone. Because of its wine-like color, early Greek mythology associated the gem with Bacchus, the god of wine. Amethyst was also believed to keep the wearer clear headed and quick witted in battle and business affairs. Renaissance Europeans thought it calmed lovers overrun by passion, which of course brings me to the most famous day in February – Valentine’s Day on the 14th. If you do not have a special someone for this romantic occasion, women can always celebrate the unofficial holiday of Galentine’s Day on February 13, leaving menfolk at home and showing appreciation for your female friends.
We also celebrate the long Presidents’ Day weekend on the third Monday of February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents, past and present.
Back when I lived in England, I really didn’t know what America Football was. However, now living in America I am very aware that we can all look forward to the Super Bowl Sunday on February 12. February is also Black History Month, American Heart Month, National Weddings Month and more. On a lighter note, today is Play Your Ukelele Day (if I had one) and tomorrow you can choose from Carrot Cake Day (yum) or Work Naked Day. In my office, I’ve decided that we will choose carrot cake. Next week we can look forward to Lame Duck Day on Monday, Send a Card to a Friend Day on Tuesday, and worryingly Thursday is National Toothache Day. Ouch!
I will leave you with an inspiring quote by 20th Century British poet Patience Strong: “In February there is everything to hope for and nothing to regret.”
God Bless America and enjoy your February!
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