I seem to have a new ritual of beginning each month with a little nod to the month itself.
And so February. Back in the 10-month calendar (the back story to September as 7th month, October as 8th, etc.), so little happened in February in terms of the agricultural and seasonal cycle that it had no name. When Julius Casesar reformed the calendar, it got its name from Februa, an annual ritual of purification practiced during that time.
In its short 28 days (the only month where it’s possible not to have a full moon), February boasts two national holidays now condensed into one (Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays simply have become President’s Day), Groundhog’s Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) and Ash Wednesday, and Black History Month. Thanks to Wikipedia, I also discovered that in the U.S., it boasts these rather obscure holidays:
• National Wear Red Day
• Ice Cream for Breakfast Day
• National Weatherperson’s Day
• Rare Disease Day
• International Stand Up to Bullying Day
Worldwide celebrations include Autism Sunday (UK), National No Smoking Day (Ireland),
Inventor’s Day (Thailand). (I feel a blog coming on about the proliferation of special days, from International Polar Beat Day to International Day for Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation, both also in February.) I’ve had the good fortune to travel in February and be in Taiwan during Chinese New Year, Japan for Setsubun, Kerala, India for its remarkable Pooram Festivals, Brazil for preparations for Carnaval.
Back in San Francisco, February is the month of plum blossoms and an annual walk to Edgewood Terrace, an entire street of plum trees. It’s the annual Super Bowl spectacle, the one football game I watch all year, the Oscars spectacle, the pleasure of four Sundays of Downton Abby (alas! last year for that!), 100’s Day at my school. My wife Karen and music teacher colleague James (along with ten other people I know!) share the same Feb. 28th birthday and my other colleague Sofia celebrates hers on the 10th. And on this Leap Year, the gift of a full extra day.
Because of crossing the International Date Line traveling to Australia, the first day of February hardly happened for me. I boarded a plane on January 31st and disembarked on February 2nd. Perhaps it zipped by while I was watching the movie Truth in Seat 21 D and not a bad way to start the month, hoping for the resurgence of bold investigative reporting and a population that cares more about learning the truth then hiding the dirty laundry of the rich and powerful. (Do see the movie and be properly outraged). Maybe I’ll propose February 1st as Dan Rather Day.
Meanwhile, onward into 2016 from the Land Down Under. I'm off to find some ice cream for breakfast.