GOOD NEWS: today, February 2nd, Ground Hog Day or Candlemas in the liturgical year, marks the midpoint of winter. We’ve made it half way; now another half and then spring! Punxsutawney Phil will have his moment, and let’s face it, especially this winter, his prognostications are as good as those of the meteorologists.
February. The month’s name is a challenge on spelling tests in elementary school, and many adults still misspell it. And do you really know anyone who pronounces that first “r.” Feb-ru-ary? How did February get its name anyway? Most of the other months are named for gods or have the Latin word for ordinal number at the beginning. Okay, it’s a little confusing because September is no longer the seventh month, and so on, but February also comes from the Latin “februium” which means cleansing or purification. So there’s Lent and fasting , a chance to begin again since statistically a third of New Year’s Resolutions are broken by February first.
It’s a neat month. Exactly 4 weeks of 7 days, except when Leap Year messes it up. And if you know the day of the week a date comes on in February, it will come on the same day in March – at least the first 28 days of March. It is the only month in which there may not be a full month, but you’ll have to wait until 2018 for that oddity. It’s a short month to begin with, but as a student and a teacher, I always looked forward to a week of vacation that shortened it even more.
It’s fitting that Super Bowl kicks off this funny little month. (Pun intended): Super Bowl, that great national holiday, the day when the greatest number of pizzas are ordered and the day on which, sadly, there is the highest incidence of domestic abuse. For a little month it has lots of notable days: there’s Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and the birthdays of Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington, the birthdays of the latter two now combined to provide the ever-popular three-day weekend. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my very own , for real, Uncle Sam, my father, two of my BFF’s, and my first grandchild were all born in February. Best not forget Valentine’s Day with all its expectations. But instead, why not send or give a Valentine to someone who is alone or lonely or sad. It’s national heart health month, so be kind to your heart: exercise and order (or prepare) some fish instead of a steak. It is also Black History Month , but as one of my precocious third-graders once asked, “Why is there a month for Black history. Why isn’t it every month like white history?”
If months were colors, February would be red and white with a swatch of pink for good measure. Despite the cold and the snow storms, the very snowstorms I don’t like in January, I have always loved February. It may be because I particularly appreciate the lengthening of the daylight and the fact it is still light at 5:15 P.M. So let’s hear it for February, even though it’s hard to spell and often mispronounced.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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