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February at last

01 Feb 2006 / in general stuff

I hate the chill damp gloom of November. I loathe the false jollity of christmas and the gnawing, cold darkness of December. After the festivities are over, I always think, thank gods! now we can get on with the grim business of winter, and then I remember January is a long and usually very cold month.

Despite the fact that February is the month when statistically there are more suicides than any other, it’s a month when I feel as if spring is not far off. And I love the quirkiness of stuff like Groundhog Day (2 Feb) which grew out of the christian festival of Candlemas. The second of February marks the halfway point between the shortest day (21 December) and the spring equinox (21 March). Tradition has it that this was the day that set out what sort of weather we could expect for the rest of the year.
There’s also St Valentine’s Day on 14 February, the day on which birds choose their mates, apparently. Chaucer wrote:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

The day is named after a third century priest from Rome who unwisely gave aid to martyrs in prison. He was beaten and beheaded in Rome is about 270AD and was buried on the Flaminian Way. That’s not very loving, is it and not much to do with birds and shagging.

And then there’s Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day which marks the day before Lent, the christian month of fasting. It doesn’t have a fixed date as it is determined by phases of the moon, as it Easter. How pre-christian is that!

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