You’ve probably heard of Rodney Dangerfield. He was an American comic actor and stand-up comedian whose shtick often revolved around the self-deprecating catchphrase, “I don’t get no respect.” A typical Dangerfield joke goes like this: “When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.”
Another thing that “don’t get no respect” is the month of February. When it comes to months in the calendar year, February is like the runt of the litter. It is at least two days shorter than any other month, but every four years, just to make it feel a little better about itself, it is given an extra day (supposedly for good behaviour).
Many of the other months of the year are named after Roman gods and emperors, but February gets its origin from the Latin “Februa” which was celebrated as a purification feast when Roman citizens ritually cleansed and washed. It makes sense that, after all the partying in December and the resulting hangovers in January, people would want to call a time-out to purify their beleaguered bodies.
The British also gave names to the time of year that is now known as February. In Olde English it was called Solmonath, which translates to mud month, or sometimes it was referred to as Kale-monath, which makes it a good month for cabbage. February, or “Feb-U-Wary” as most people mispronounce the name, is also the only month of the year that may pass without a single full moon.
Research shows that people born in February display unusual traits that can seem confusing at first glance. Although interesting and intelligent, Februarians can be far removed from reality and get lost in abstract thought. This is completely understandable if we take into consideration the rules that make up the conditions for when February gains an extra day in a leap year. Everybody probably knows that if the year is divisible evenly by four, then it will be a leap year and February will have 29 days. Thusly, 2020 was a leap year whereas 2021 was not. However, if the year happens to be a century year, as was 1900, then it is not considered a leap year even though it is divisible by 4. And just to give your head one last spin, if the year is divisible by 400, then it is again a leap year with 366 days (as was the year 2000).
Statistics are not too kind to people born in February. It has been shown that when men born in February marry women born in May, the relationships are often volatile with an exceedingly high divorce rate. Although they can be exceptionally loyal and love their freedom, Februarians are usually low on self-esteem and can be shy and introverted.
Who are some of the famous February babies? Perhaps you’ve heard of the scientific geniuses called Galileo, Copernicus, and Charles Darwin. You can also find George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan among American presidents born in February. Composers and musicians such as Chopin, Handel, Mendelssohn, and George Harrison also checked into the sphere of life during the month of February.
Unfortunately, the month of February has also given birth to some not so illustrious human beings. Included among these are the names of 38 serial killers who are forever identified by their somewhat endearing criminal monikers, such as the Green River Killer, the Angel of Death, the Apostle of Death and the Butcher Barber.
Perhaps because February has been shown so much disrespect over the ages, the powers that be have compensated by assigning a myriad of special days to the month. In 2022, we have or will be celebrating Chinese New Year (Feb. 1), Groundhog Day (Feb. 2), National Flag of Canada Day (Feb. 15) and President’s Day or Family Day (Feb. 21).
These civic commemorative celebrations are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to acknowledging how much we appreciate our dear February. Among some of the lesser recognized days in the month (and you can circle these on your calendar because I am not making them up) are: Food Freedom Day (Feb. 9), Random Acts of Kindness Day (Feb. 17), National Pizza Day (Feb. 9, which ironically falls on the same day as Food Freedom Day), National Tater Tot Day (Feb. 2, which coincidentally is the same day as Groundhog Day), National Margarita Day (Feb. 22) and National Frog Legs Day (Feb. 29, which unfortunately can only be celebrated every four years because it only falls, or hops, on leap year day).
But that’s not all, folks! February, the month that “don’t get no respect,” is just loaded with more festive days than you could possibly find time to party on. Take National Frozen Yogurt Day which falls on the first Monday of the month, or National Wear Red Day on the first Friday. In case you’re wondering, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is on the first Saturday while Open That Bottle Night is on the last Saturday of February (if you survive all the yogurt, pizza, tater tots and frogs legs that you have already hoovered down).
Wait. There’s even more. Not only are specific days dedicated to certain ground breaking events, but the month itself carries significance for various important causes. For example, February is designated as official National Bird Feeding Month, so make sure you save some of those tater tots and frog legs leftovers to offer to your feathered friends. If that weren’t enough, February is also National Children’s Dental Health Month, so have the kids go easy on Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.
Whatever days we celebrate, as we watch February slowly slide out of the frame while winter gradually fades in the rear view mirror, we can’t help but bid a fond adieu to our little runt of a month. Nobody asked me, but it only seems fitting that as we take a leap forward into springtime, we dedicate a moment or two to honour our wee February, the month that sheltered those of us in southern B.C. through the last of the inclement weather. Too bad that we have no undesignated day left that we could call National February Day.