‘Leap Year’ month holds many events

As I contemplated my article for this month, I realized that February holds several memorable events.

First, this column should be running on Groundhog Day. When my husband and I were dating, he used to say that he really liked this day. However, I think what he meant was that he liked the movie, “Groundhog Day.”

It was a 1993 movie starring Bill Murray as a TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event, is caught in a time loop, repeatedly reliving the same day. My husband may change his mind after he reads the following information I found surrounding groundhogs:

People ate groundhogs on the first known Groundhog Day in 1887. Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions have only been accurately predicted 39 percent of the time. A groundhog is not looking for his shadow when it comes out of the burrow. They are, in fact, looking for potential mates as they begin preparing for the mating season in March. You may even think of it as a Valentine’s Day for groundhogs.

Punxsutawney Phil does not live in a natural burrow. Instead, he lives in a man-made shelter in conditions of controlled temperatures. Groundhog club members usually take care of his needs and support him in the growing phase. Enough about these critters.

If your birthday falls on the 29th of February this year, congrats to you because you are what’s called a “leaper” or “leapling.” Leap year happens every four years, so usually you celebrate your birthday on the 28th or March 1. In addition, it almost always coincides with presidential election years and the Olympics.

Sir James Milne Wilson was the Premier of Tasmania from 1869-1872. While that was certainly an accomplishment, the most impressive thing about him was something he had absolutely no control over. The British ruler was born on Feb. 29, 1812, and died on Feb. 29, 1880, making him one of the only known people to have been born and to have died on a Leap Day. One might call him a Gold Star Leapling.

Another day in February that is synonymous with the month is Valentine’s Day. Approximately 62 percent of consumers celebrate this day in some manner. One of the biggest ways is the exchanging of cards — over 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually. Over 50 percent of those cards are purchased during the six days leading up to the holiday.

Of those cards, 85 percent are bought by women. School teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards, deservedly I’d say — school teachers spend hundreds of their own money annually for their classrooms.

Florists find this day to be a very busy one — 73 percent of flowers bought are by men while 15 percent of women buy themselves flowers on this special day!

Some people like to think of February as the month of love. There are many kinds of love. First there is God’s love, described to us in a well-known scripture in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Another verse you can look into is I John 4:7-12, it is a discourse on love, speaking of God’s love and brotherly love.

Then there is love for our family, especially children and grandchildren. Love for our partner — whether married or in a long-term relationship. Also love for our friends, our profession in life and how about for ourselves?

My little twin granddaughters make me laugh because one will say to the other, “So and so likes you. Is he your boyfriend?” To which the other replies, “He is not my boyfriend — he is a friend that is a boy.”

Try to explain all of this to 8-year-olds!

Makes me want to lock them up for at least 10 years — just kidding.

OK, maybe just a couple more things on the subject of Valentine’s Day. After teachers receiving the most cards, then comes kids, mothers, wives, sweethearts.

Hallmark produced its first Valentine card in 1913. More at-home pregnancy tests are sold in March than in any other month.

So, what are you planning for this holiday of love, and who is Cupid anyway?

Cupid was the Roman god of love. According to myth, he was the son of Mercury, winged messenger of gods, and Venus, the goddess of love. Watch out for Cupid’s arrow — you just might fall in love, or fall deeper in love!

Another event celebrated in February is Presidents’ Day. It is recognized on the third Monday of the month (Feb. 17 this year) and combines both George Washington’s (Feb. 22) and Abraham Lincoln’s (Feb. 12) birthdays. After Washington died in 1799, his supporters began recognizing his birthday as an annual day of remembrance for America’s first president. His birthday became a federal holiday for the District of Columbia in 1879 and for the rest of the country in 1885. This was the first federal holiday that honored an individual.

Then in 1968, Congress introduced the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, which hoped to change certain federal holidays from specific dates to designated Mondays, creating more three-day weekends.

The bill also wanted to combine Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays into one holiday. In 1971, the bill passed, and President Richard Nixon issued an executive order that the third Monday in February was now a holiday.

By the way, two other presidents also had February birthdays — William Henry Harrison (Feb. 9) and Ronald Reagan (Feb. 6).

So, whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not, I’m just happy to be done with January. It is my least favorite month of the year. I will celebrate some of the above-mentioned events. However, you will NOT find me eating groundhog!


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