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February, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

By: Icy Frantz 

Have you ever noticed that no one actually loves February? For a month that boasts the most romantic day of the year, there doesn’t seem to be any romance at all for the month itself. When asked, “What is your favorite month?”, I have never heard anyone answer, “I just love February! Isn’t it just marvelous?”

Sure, we love May with the blossoming of flowers and the reemergence of warmer days, and July because it is the epitome of the lazy days of summer. And October – how beautiful; and December is even magical. But February seems to be the ugly stepchild of the calendar year.

Wedged right between the beginning of a new year and the coming of spring, February is so bemoaned it wasn’t even gifted the same number of days as other months. Leap year babies get to blow out candles only once every four years. And thank goodness for autocorrect, because Febuary (I mean February) is the most frequently misspelled month. So, what’s with it, February, give me a reason to love you.

If you like to drink February follows Dry January, which means that one can return to a fine glass of wine or a cold frosty beer in good conscious. According to a Nielsen poll, in 2021 alone, 13 percent of Americans participated, and as you can imagine, this health trend is widely unpopular with alcoholic beverage companies and distributors. But alas, there is Mardi Gras, which occurs 47 days before Easter (almost always in February) and includes parties and balls and plenty of indulgences in preparation for the abstinence of Lent. February 18th is National Drink Wine Day and the 22nd is National Margarita Day, so those companies can rest assured that they will make up for any lost January revenue and have reason to celebrate come February.

If that is not enough, February is also National Chocolate Month, and chocolate is something I very much appreciate. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, bittersweet (do I sound like Forrest Gump?), and some of my favorites – Caramello bars, Milky Ways, and the entire 5-pound box See’s Candies sent to us every Christmas by a good friend.

While we are at it, February 5th is World Nutella Day (don’t get me started). And let us not forget, Valentine’s Day, so sweet and profitable – did you know that at least 58 million pounds of chocolate are bought the week leading up to February 14th? And have you ever noticed that Cadbury Crème Eggs, produced to commemorate Easter (which usually occurs in April), hit the shelves in February? I have, and they do.

Even if the cynic in me speculates about the real objective behind all of these unofficial national days that promote everything from chocolate to dental visits (which fittingly also falls in February), there are some other days that merit mentioning. Groundhog Day, for example, is on February 2nd. This is the halfway point of the winter season, and for pre-industrial societies (particularly farmers), it was a day to take stock and determine whether you have enough food and firewood to last the rest of the winter.

So, it would make sense that we would trust a groundhog with this important information, or would it? This year, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil (the most notable groundhog of them all) saw his shadow, but the less-famous Chuckles in Connecticut did not (he did, however, pee on the mayor of Hartford). It does seem to be a whole lot of fuss, but it’s February fuss all the same. (And it is worth noting for the record that Punxsutawney Phil has a 39% accuracy rate, which is good news for all of us this year.)

Presidents Day, a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February, is another highlight of the month. Established in 1885 in recognition of George Washington’s birthday, it has since been repurposed to honor Washington, Lincoln, and other presidents. And although Washington, William Henry Harrison, Lincoln and Ronald Reagan were all born in February, President’s Day does not fall on any of their birthdays, ever; they were each born too early or too late in the month. But for most of us, Presidents Day gives us a free Monday or a long weekend, and that is a very welcome break to a short month and a long winter.

Speaking of winter, according to the National Weather Service, February is the United States’ snowiest month, and while this may not be music to your ears, it most certainly is to any school-age child. A large snowfall or dump represents the possibility of another holiday- a snow day – and the 5 am alert, “Due to inclement weather, there will be no school today” blaring from every device in the house.

The Super Bowl is the first Sunday in February, and that’s a pretty good way to kick off a month (pun intended). If you love football (and Tom Brady – I do), I think you will agree. But even if you do not, it’s a great excuse to eat bean dip and chicken wings, watch commercials, and critique the halftime show.

A friend told me the other day that February is like a speed bump, without it we would all race as fast as we could right into spring. But in fact, it’s worth slowing down so that we can truly enjoy February; the days get longer, the evenings lighter, small buds make their way through the melting snow, and football jerseys are tossed aside as baseball teams commence preseason training. We sit by the fire with hot cocoa in hand and remember what it’s like to make snow angels. We speculate about Phil and the possibility of six more weeks of winter and sometimes, we even swing from the rafters with our Mardi Gras beads.

February, you may be short and stormy, underrated and unappreciated even, but I think you are marvelous.

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