Lots to love
by Mike Vieira f you believe all of the heart-filled advertisements and love-loaded commercials, St. Valentine’s Day is the major event in February. Not to give you cardiac arrest, but this minor saint is only a big shot in the sales department. Looking for “real” church holidays? How about Candlemas? It is considered the end of the Christmas season because it marks the ritual purification of Mary which happened 40 days after Jesus’ birth. (Old custom and long story— Google it for more info.) It’s also the day when candles were brought to church to be blessed. And, this year it falls on February 2, which is also Groundhog Day. Now, there’s an interesting holiday for you. If a little cousin of a rat sees his shadow or doesn’t is a good indication of when spring starts or doesn’t? A little far-fetched, but then again, he may be as accurate as many weather men—or women. It might be an interesting day, but is it a holiday? I actually know of only one family that celebrates it each year. They sent friends Groundhog cards and include all kinds of creative gifts ranging from a tape of Groundhog Carols to a package of Groundhog jerky. Although it’s a great family tradition for them, it seems like this cold, dark month is just yearning for an excuse to party. And we do.
Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, a time of reflection and penance for Christians. This year, it falls on February 17—which makes February 16, Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday.” Now that’s a real holiday.
It has some legitimacy from its roots in religion, but offers an excuse for eating and drinking. From Carnival in Brazil to the celebrations in New Orleans, it’s an infamous time of year, but you’ve got appreciate the beauty of a day just devoted to excess. When I was a kid, many of the Portuguese churches in the area had Malassada Suppers just before Lent. There were no beads tossed or bodies painted, but folks lined up to eat their fill of the famous, fried dough sparking with sugar. I remember rows of white paper covered tables filled with people of all ages just passing plates of malassadas and enjoying the last hurrah before the fast. No matter how or if you celebrate it, Mardi Gras is a good holiday. It’s got food, music and fun—not bad things during this cold, dark time of year. But is that all that February is good for? I think not.
noisemakers, costumes and treats, according to various websites. Sounds like fun to me. Want to put a Tiger in your month? Celebrate Chinese New Year. By their count, it is 4707, which is also the year of the Tiger. What’s that mean? Folks born in the year of Tiger are optimistic, romantic, lovable, magnetic and independent. Beethoven, Chuck Berry, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Stevie Wonder and Marilyn Monroe are among the famous Tigers. Go figure. This year, the ancient event is celebrated on February 14, 2010, which is the first day of the First Moon of the lunar calendar. Socially, it’s a time for family reunions and get-togethers. This year, the timing is perfect because it’s the eve of Presidents’ Day—the beginning of school vacation.
Although technically not a holiday, most schools give their students a week off in February. You can argue whether it’s necessary or cuts down on “time on learning,” but for kids and teachers alike, it’s nice. For our family, February vacation meant a trip to Cape Cod. Yes, most folks go in the summer, but we loved being able to play in a pool, shop and eat, drive along the seashore, and relax during the “off season.” I’d also catch up on my reading…while others shopped. This quiet time in the busy year provided us with special family time. You might want to take some time to enjoy these unofficial breaks in our regular schedule as well. If nothing else, the long weekend provides an opportunity for socializing. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
February is Black History Month. There’s lots to celebrate and honor. Check out community newspapers and web pages for events, there are many activities to enjoy. More importantly, actually go to something. Bristol Community College is hosting Black Inventors Exhibit on February 4 in G Building. This multimedia presentation is a tribute to Black inventors and innovators internationally, who have developed many of the things people use on a daily basis. Check out the college website for more activities and information. The month ends with Purim. Considered the most festive of Jewish holidays, it commemorates a major victory over oppression. It’s celebrated with prizes,
February 2010 / The South Coast Insider