Basic Biittner : February short, but sweet

Monday, February 18, 2013

It has been February for a couple of weeks now, so allow me to get this off my chest - I don't have many 'pet peeves,' but one about which I've ranted on many occasions and will do so again here is the pronunciation of the second month of the calendar year.

While I'd be the first to admit that some words (like 'colonel,' for example) are not spelled like they sound, "February" is not one of those. The word is pronounced just as it's spelled : Feb - BREW - Airy - not Feb -YOU- airy. Perhaps thinking of a nice brewski might make it easier for some to remember this pronunciation.

There - I got that off my chest (at least until next year, anyway).

What I really wanted to talk about today is what a terrific month February is - aside from the weather, of course.

The month's name comes from the Latin term 'februum,' which means 'purification,' via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 in the old Roman calendar. It is, of course, the shortest month of the year - the only one with less than 30 days - even in Leap Year.

Nevertheless, it has occurred to me in recent years that, despite its brevity, the month of February has more than its share of special days.

Right off the bat, of course, we have Groundhog's Day, February 2. While not an official holiday and not a great one, because, let's face it, whether or not Punksatawney Phil sees his shadow, we're going to have AT LEAST six more weeks of winter. Guaranteed. However, "Groundhog's Day" is a terrific movie, with Bill Murray at his best, co-starring with the lovely Andie McDowell.

Baseball fans - particularly home run fans - could celebrate the birthdays of both Henry Aaron (Feb. 5) AND Babe Ruth (Feb. 6) the following week, if they chose to do so. And, if you are a Republican or old movie fan, you could also celebrate Ronald Reagan's birthday on the 6th. The former WHO sportscaster "Dutch" would have turned 102 this year.

February 12, of course, used to be celebrated as Lincoln's Birthday. It still is Honest Abe's birthday, of course - it's just not a "special" day anymore.

February 14th is an especially 'sweet' holiday. Valentine's Day, of course, is another one of those "unofficial" holidays. However, guys, the fact that it's not an "official" holiday does not work as an excuse for forgetting to get something for your significant other.

Moving right along, the third Monday in February is now called 'President's Day,' which replaced Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday (Feb. 22) as an official February holiday. Kind of a bummer, I think. "Two-for-one" is usually a bargain, but not when it comes to replacing two holidays with one.

The final (unofficial) 'holiday' in February is 'Leap Day,' Feb. 29, but that only occurs once every four years, so I ask you "what kind of holiday is that?"

Along with all of the above, February is also American Heart Month, Black History Month, American History (aka White History) Month, Children's Dental Health Month, International Friendship Month, National Cherry Month (no comment), National Embroidery Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Snack Food Month (yay!), National Wild Bird Feeding Month and Responsible Pet Owners' Month.

In addition to Ruth, Aaron, Lincoln and Washington, the following notable people (or products) were also born in February : Charles Lindbergh, Rosa Parks, Charles Dickens, Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Boys Scouts of America, Jack Benny, Hershey's Chocolate, Thomas Edison, Susan B. Anthony, 'Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood,' the toothpick, the Polaroid Land camera, paper currency, Levi Strauss and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Not bad for one short little month, huh?

But wait - it gets better for someone like me whose world revolves the world of entertainment.

The Grammy Awards, the music world's big awards night, are held in February, as is the NFL Championship Game, aka The Super Bowl, which used to be played as early as Jan. 15, but due to expansion of teams and playoffs, the last few years the game has taken place in February.

And last but not least, another entertainment tradition - the Academy Awards (aka Oscar) Ceremony has gradually worked its way in the opposite direction from the Super Bowl. The Oscar telecast used to be in April, then slid up to March, and this year - you guessed it - will be held on Sunday February 24.

What a month!

No matter how you pronounce it.