By: Lisette Westerveldt
After the Christmas and winter holidays of December, and then the New Year celebrations in early January, the days since have been rather dull and slow. But don’t fear—February is here!
Although February is indeed the shortest month of the year (even including the leap day for this year), it also happens to be one of the busiest. While it may be best known for Valentine’s Day, many people tend to forget the other holidays that are present in February. For example, Presidents Day celebrated in the U.S., Flag Day celebrated in Canada and Mexico, and International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated worldwide, all take place in February—along with a dozen others in various countries. In addition, February is considered to be historically and socially important for being the Black History Month in the countries of Canada and the U.S., and the LGBT History Month for the United Kingdom. But even more than that, this year’s February will play host to Leap Day!
That’s right. February will not have its typical 28 days this year, but instead have 29. But why is that? The answer is fairly simple. Although many believe that the Earth’s complete revolution around the sun takes 365 days, it actually takes an approximate 365 days and 6 hours. So, every four years, after an extra 24 hours have accumulated, one extra day is added to the calendar. The last leap year was 2008, so now in 2012, four years later, we will have another one. Exciting, right?
Another famous (or should I say, infamous) February holiday is Groundhog Day, which is typically celebrated in the U.S. and Canada each year on February 2. On this day, in mid-winter, a groundhog will awaken from its long winter nap and go outside his den to see if it can see its shadow. Folklore says that if a groundhog sees its shadow, on a sunny day, there will be six more weeks of winter. If however, he does not see its shadow, on a cloudy day, then there will be no more winter. This tradition actually has German roots, back when German immigrants brought the tradition with them to the U.S. Nonetheless, Groundhog Day remains a popular holiday in the both the U.S. and Canada.
So what are you waiting for? Celebrate. Find out what kinds of obscure, wacky holidays are celebrated where you live. And best of all, you may even get the day off!
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