I don't mean to poop on anyone's party, but doesn't it seem like our traditional February holidays are a bit lame? Groundhog's Day? Valentine's? And then, for Catholics, there's Lent. Yee-haw. At least President's Day gives some of us a day off work.
February deserves better. Here in the Midwest, the major holidays are over... Even the most Christmas-obsessed neighbors have taken down their inflatable Santas and strings of lights... But it is still fully, whole-heartedly winter. The sun shines brighter and stays up longer than in January, and it reflects brightly off the blanket of snow and the ice on trees and telephone wires. Even though it's still cold, the high temperatures flirt with the possibility of thaw, and the mornings are full of birdsong. Early birds, worms, and whatnot. Roaring fires still feel cozy, but it's not so dreary outside for wood chopping. The ground is still frozen, but it's time to start planning gardens and ordering seeds.
All in all, it's a pretty nice month. I deem it worthy of adopting new, exotic, or revised winter holidays.
Lunar New Year (celebrated in China) is a two-week festival that begins in late January or early February to welcome the coming spring. There certainly aren't any cherry blossoms in bloom where I am, but it could be fun to throw a Lunar New Year party anyway. Forcing some buds or bulbs indoors for this time period could be a nice touch for those of us in chilly winter climates.
Carnaval is fun for Catholics, Europeans, colonized-indigenous-peoples-converted-to-Catholicism, and everybody who likes to dance, party, dress in costumes, and overindulge. I think that covers almost everyone. The only sign of Carnaval, or Fat Tuesday, here in Michigan seems to be the sale of packzis (Polish donuts filled with custard, cream, or fruit) at grocery stores. That's a start. We could use some more Carnaval around here.
Personal celebrations are also very welcome in February. Thank you, all my friends and family who were born this month. Birthday parties are a nice way to break up the long winter nights. Mr. G and I celebrate the anniversary of our elopement on February 2 each year by eating Mexican food, because that's what we did after getting hitched. This year, we picked up the best-of-the-best homemade tacos and burritos from the local roadside "Oasis" taco stand, along with a couple of Mexican Cokes. We don't normally drink soda, but Mexican Cokes are the best. There's no corn subsidy tomfoolery in Mexico, so Coke south of the border is made with pure cane sugar--and still sold in glass bottles in all sizes. If it says "hecho en Mexico" on the bottle, it tastes better, I swear. Find one at your local bodega.
Speaking of romance, Valentine's Day doesn't have to be the cheesy, sappy, obligation-and-loneliness-inducing Hallmark holiday that it is for most Americans. I'm in a happy, committed relationship, and Valentine's Day makes me want to barf. No offense if you love mushy, saccharine stuff. I enjoy a Twinkie every now and then. I just prefer hearty, nutritious love over the Wonderbread variety, in general. That's why I thought it was really cool that Unitarian Universalist churches nationwide took the opportunity to "Reimagine Valentine's Day" and organize people to use the power of love-of-humankind to take a stand against oppression of marginalized members of our society. The Standing on the Side of Love campaign has inspired actions to support LGBTQ rights, immigration reform, and civil rights for the poor and imprisoned.
I think I already suggested this in December or January, but February is also an excellent month for an Adult Snow Day. Grab your friends and go ice skating, sledding, tubing, cross-country skiing, Calvin-and-Hobbes-style snowman crafting, or any other winter-themed outdoor activity. Then gather inside by the fire for s'more roasting and cocoa spiked with Amaretto or Hot Damn.
Whatever you do, have a happy February!