February is an odd month.
For one thing, it’s only 28 days long — although that varies every four years on leap year. No other month has that kind of identity crisis going on.
It also occupies a rather innocuous spot on the calendar, falling between the start of the new year and the beginning of spring.
Most days in February, it’s too cold for short sleeves, but it’s generally too warm for heavy sweaters.
It’s really an indeterminate month.
Even Groundhog Day can go either way — though in Texas, six more weeks of winter just means a slight delay in bringing out the shorts and flip-flops.
Valentine’s Day is a nice, romantic interlude, but if you’re not in a relationship, it can be a real downer.
In February, football is over (once the Super Bowl ends), but professional baseball hasn’t started yet — except for boring spring drills.
Sure, college basketball is going on, but it’s still another month until March Madness, and the NBA is still two months away from the playoffs. The same goes for pro hockey, for those who follow that sport.
For students, the spring semester is underway, but spring break is still a few weeks off.
For people out in the working world, there are no real holidays to look forward to in February — although some people are fortunate enough to get Presidents Day off.
But even that holiday is indeterminate. It doesn’t mark Lincoln’s birthday, which is the 12th, and it’s not Washington’s birthday, which falls on the 22nd. So in its infinite wisdom, the federal government just split the difference, stuck the holiday on a Monday, gave it a generic name and mandated that every furniture store and car lot in America must hold a sale on that date.
The annual Mardi Gras celebration usually happens in February, but hold on to your beads. Ash Wednesday sometimes falls in March, as it did in 2011 and will again in 2019. So poor little February can’t even count on a good party every year.
Even the pronunciation of February is ambiguous. I was taught to pronounce the “r” in the middle: Feb-ROO-ary. But somewhere along the way, the official language experts decided that it was OK to skip the “r” and pronounce the month Feb-U-ary.
So which is it, you may ask? Apparently, both pronunciations are acceptable, according to the folks at Miriam-Webster.
Still, the month does have some things going for it.
Historically, it’s the month when John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, in 1962.
February’s the month, in 1870, when the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing the right of citizens to vote, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
It is also Black History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans since our nation’s founding.
On a less celebratory note, in February 1913, the 16th Amendment was ratified, granting Congress the authority to collect income taxes.
Artist Norman Rockwell was born in February, as was aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, novelist Charles Dickens, inventor Thomas Edison, Admiral Chester Nimitz, baseball legend Babe Ruth and former Presidents Ronald Reagan and William Henry Harrison.
In fact, there are plenty of big-name birthdays in February, including pioneering astronomers Galileo Galilei and Nicolas Copernicus, suffragette Susan B. Anthony, African-American educator W.E.B. Du Bois, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, frontiersman Buffalo Bill Cody and last but not least, singer Sonny Bono.
But if you’re still not a big fan of February, that’s OK. It’s a short month; it will be over before you know it.
Dave Miller is deputy managing editor / opinion for the Killeen Daily Herald and editor of the Harker Heights Herald. Contact him at email@example.com or 254-501-7543.
Dave Miller is deputy managing editor /opinion for the Killeen Daily Herald and editor of the Harker Heights Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7543.