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February Is Here

So, we have survived another “holiday season” and may still be experiencing the letdown or blues that many suffer from all the activities in which most participated during the previous months. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real condition that makes it hard to get back on track after all the hustle and bustle associated with family gatherings and celebrations at offices and friend’s homes, etc. SAD is a very appropriate acronym for the feelings that go along with this condition. But, now it is time to get moving as we are done with the first month and are into another year, hopefully, one that will be full of promise and prosperity!

The year’s second month, February is unique in that it is the only one of the twelve that has less than 30 days and its number of days can vary from 28 in common years to 29 in leap years. February is also the only month that, on occasion, can pass by without there being a full moon. The basis for determining when a full moon is expected to occur (one that from earth appears fully illuminated) is the UTC or Coordinated Universal Time (an equivalent to the GMT or Greenwich Mean Time) which is the primary standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. According to the UTC, the last time there was no full moon in February was in 1999 and the next time this will occur is this year, 2018. This rarity is also true for the new moon phase (one so poorly illuminated that it is not visible from earth) which was last noted in February 2014 and will not occur again until February 2033.

So what can we expect in February? Well, first of all, there is Groundhog Day on the 2nd when we learn (with tongue in cheek) how long winter will last and then get to watch the Eagles and Patriots battle it out during the 52nd Super Bowl game on the 4th. And, since it is now less than two weeks away, it is time to make plans for your romantic Valentine’s Day activities. You will need to decide what kind of celebration it will be for you and that special someone in your life. Will it be a trip to a special destination, a dinner out at an elegant restaurant or perhaps a special candlelit dinner at yours or their home? Maybe, especially if that “someone” is not nearby, it will only involve sending flowers or a special gift along with a card that expresses your feelings and, of course, a phone call to follow up. It is also not uncommon at this time for especially for the gentlemen to not only remember that special someone but also all the other ladies of all ages in their lives, especially mothers and daughters. Some, however, may want to consider an earlier celebration since, for those who observe the season of Lent, they must be aware that this year Valentine’s Day, February 14th, occurs on Ash Wednesday.

At a date dictated by the lunar cycle and just two days after Valentine’s Day, is the moveable feast known as Chinese New Year’s Day. In the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac each of the years are represented by a different animal including those that are the main domestic animals raised by the Chinese (ox, horse, goat, rooster, dog and pig) and those that are loved by the Chinese (rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake and monkey). The 12 animals are sorted into two groups, yin or yang, according to the number, odd or even, of their hooves, toes or claws. The animals are then alternated throughout the 12-year calendar. This year, 2018, is the Year of the Dog, as  was the case in each year, 12 years earlier than the last, i.e. 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946 and 1934 (probably not too many folks around now that were born in 1922 or earlier) but this is specifically the year of the Earth Dog.

Since the Chinese consider that the birth year goes a long way in determining one’s personality traits those born in a Year of the Dog are expected to be serious and communicative individuals who are responsible in the workplace. And, since 2018 is an Earth Year it is expected to be a good one for events related to the earth like agriculture, land and real estate. It is interesting to note that the birth year is not always the only thing that determines in which animal year one belongs.  This year the Chinese New Year actually begins on February 4th, however, the first day is never counted so only those born on February 5th or later will fall within the Year of the Dog. Those born on February 4th or earlier belong to the previous Year of the Rooster.

But, in case one does not care about the Chinese New Year they can enjoy another celebration on an official holiday and day off work for most on February 19th, President’s Day.  Four Presidents had birthdays in the month of February, Ronald Reagan (February 6th), William Henry Harrison (February 9th), Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and George Washington (February 22nd). The current celebration had its beginning in 1885 when the nation recognized George Washington as the most important figure in American history and celebrated his birthday on February 22nd each year. Following Abraham Lincoln’s death, there were efforts to get this birthday recognized as a national holiday but that never happened although today four states, Illinois, Connecticut, Missouri and New York still honor him with a paid holiday.

It was in the 1960s that the original proposal was put forth in Congress to move several holidays to predetermined Mondays but it wasn’t until 1971 that the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was officially signed into law by then-President Richard Nixon. The Act originally included holidays for Washington’s Birthday, Columbus Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day, however, widespread criticism caused Veterans Day to be returned to its original date. Although still officially called Washington’s Birthday by the federal government, President’s Day is now always celebrated on the third Monday of February, a day on which none of the four former President’s birthdays will ever fall.

So if the end of January found you still struggling, even minimally, with SAD, those are some things to look forward to in February that may help you move on. But, if those are not enough for you then you might keep right in step on the 22nd with National Margarita Day or the 24th with Open a Bottle Day or perhaps just give up and fully enjoy National Public Sleeping Day on the 28th.  

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