Category Archives: Culture

B-list Holidays

February is considered the least favorite month by many people. It’s easy for me to understand why. I live in Minnesota and the forecast high temperature this week is a negative number four of the next seven days. We in the Great White North are stuck indoors for both COVID-19 and the weather. But February is mid-winter. People have been restless this time of year for millennia.

In the United States, we celebrate a few February holidays. Groundhog Day is based on ancient European celebrations that involve weather divination used to predict the end of winter. Modern Valentine’s Day is associated with romantic love and sex, but it was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died in AD 269 due to Roman persecution of Christians.

In February, two things have been traditionally on our minds: when is winter going to end and the fertility of livestock. Food, basically. Do we have enough stored food to last us to the end of winter and will the animals produce offspring for more food in the future? Continue reading

Groundhog standing in grass

February Worst

Tomorrow is February 1st.

What is your favorite month of the year? Only 2% of Americans will answer February, probably those who have a birthday that falls in the month or a strong affinity to Lunar New Year or Mardi Gras. I believe that February gets such a bad rap because it is the middle of winter. January has the residue of Christmas and New Year, March contains the first day of spring, but February is deep, cold, endless winter.

Enter the mid-winter festival.

In America, we call this Groundhog Day, Catholics refer to it as Candlemas, and for the ancient Celts, it was Imbolc. All celebrations for one reason or another but if we are honest, the fact that February 4th falls midway between the first day of winter (winter solstice) and the first day of spring (vernal equinox) is reason enough to celebrate. Astronomical winter in the Northern Hemisphere is half over!

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