February Is “Kind Of A Big Deal”

If February could talk it would probably say something like, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m kind of a big deal.” In fact this month, despite its short number of days, packs in quite a few important holidays and observances.

Black History Month

February is Black History Month, also known as African American History Month. This observance was founded in 1915 originally as a one week holiday to celebrate and acknowledge African Americans who have made a difference in America. In 1976 the African American History week was extended to the entire month of February. This month was chosen for two important dates: President Lincoln was born on February 12 and Frederick Douglass, one of the nation’s leading abolitionists, was born on February 14.

February 2: Groundhog Day 
The legend of Groundhog Day originates from European weather lore that used a badger or bear to predict the end of winter. Germanic immigrants in Pennsylvania began the tradition of using a groundhog. The largest Groundhog Day celebration is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where the star of the show is Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow spring will be just around the corner. This year he predicted an early spring!

February 12: Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, a French phrase that means Fat Tuesday, is always the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. For some it’s a day of feasting, drinking, and revelry before the season of Lenten fasting. The largest and most popular celebration of Mardi Gras in the United States takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. They celebrate with parades, costumes, music and food.

February 13: Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent
Ash Wednesday and Lent are Christian observances in which they will fast or give up something important to them for forty days before Easter. This is a remembrance of Jesus fasting for forty days in the desert and is a spiritual preparation for Easter. 

February 14: Valentine’s Day 
This day originated as a Christian feast day to remember at least three martyrs named Valentine. Some Christian traditions still celebrate St. Valentine as an official holiday, while others do not. This holiday was first linked to a celebration of romantic love by Geoffrey Chaucer, an author from the Middle Ages. This observance has morphed into a day to give loved ones presents of flowers, sweet confections, or cards known as “valentines”.

February 18: Presidents Day 
Presidents Day is officially a federal holiday celebrating George Washington’s birthday. Washington was actually born on February 22, but the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved the observance to the 3rd Monday in February. A majority of states declared a concurrent celebration of the office of the President for this day, thus the two conflicting titles for this holiday. George Washington’s birthday was the first federal holiday honoring an American citizen.

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