It’s named from the Latin, februum, in honor of the purification ritual Februa, held on February 15th of the Roman calendar. The Saxons called it Sol-monath, or cake month, when they offered cakes to the gods. And the Welsh call it y mis bach, little month.
Whatever you call it, short February holds enough special days for everyone to celebrate something. Opening with No Politics Day, then on to Ground Hog Day, not a single date lacks a specific designation for something to be celebrated or acknowledged.
Looming large, Super Bowl Sunday will monopolize February 4th, with several minor honorees following—Weatherman’s Day, Chopstick Day, White T-Shirt Day, etc.—until we get to Mardi Gras, on the 13th.
The 12th and 22nd, formerly Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays respectively, have been governmentally appropriated and crammed into a single celebration, now dubbed President’s Day, on the 19th this year.
Of course, the biggie anticipated by loving couples in the U. S., the U. K., Canada, Australia. Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Boznia-Herzegovina, and Japan, is St. Valentine’s Day. According to various sources, our modern Valentine’s Day originated in the U.K.
The occasion most likely sprang from the Roman holiday Lupercalia, a pagan fertility celebration which was continued by some Christian converts after Emperor Constantine the Great legalized Christianity in Rome. (See www.biblestudy.org)
During 5th Century Rome it was named Valentine’s Day in honor of a Christian martyr imprisoned for secretly marrying soldiers (whom Emperor Claudius II believed should remain single), and for ministering to Christians who had been persecuted by Rome.
St. Valentine’s martyrdom however, has been overshadowed by the marrying of romance with big business. Valentine cards exchanged annually in this country number about 180 million, with women purchasing most of them; and 53% of women saying they would end the relationship if they didn’t receive something from their significant other. (See www.statisticbrain.com)
Roses produced for the occasion number about 198 million. Red roses, the favorite of Venus, Roman goddess of love, remain the most popular. And chocolate? About 58 billion pounds are sold the week preceding Valentine’s Day. Sparkling wine sales bring in $8.6 million; that’s 174,000 gallons. Whew!
The average consumer spends between $116 and $150 on gifts and merchandise. (Guess we can assume that’s the average between Tiffany jewelry and a second grader’s dime store bracelet for a little freckle-faced someone.)
However, if you’re not big on the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, or hearts and flowers, don’t despair. On February 16th, you can Do a Grouch a Favor; or wait until the 17th for Random Acts of Kindness Day. Foodies may enjoy Pizza Day (the 9th), Cherry Pie Day (20th), Tortilla Chip Day (24th), and Pistachio Day (26th).
If you still can’t find anything to celebrate, bring your pillow to work and take advantage of Public Sleeping Day–February 28th. Happy February!
Article by Constance Watkins