What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions February?
It is the shortest month of the year? Although we do get to add that Leap Day this year. The Super Bowl? The start of spring training for baseball?
More likely Valentine’s Day is at the top of the memory banks. The one day when lovers and spouses are obliged to express their love to each other, often with candy, flowers and/or chocolate.
I am not here to trash on Valentine’s Day, which generates some eye-popping spending numbers every year. According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day shoppers spent $20.7 billion in 2019.
One rejects Valentine’s Day at his own peril. Or so I’ve been told.
No, what I’m getting on my soapbox about in this column are those more insidious special days; what I call “contrived observances” (and yes, I realize that to many people Valentine’s Day is a contrived observance). Those are the “special” days that you are encouraged to acknowledge even though their premise is slim at best.
Because morning TV has to find time to fill, that’s usually when someone will share with their audience that it’s National Stuffed Mushroom Day, or somesuch. National Stuffed Mushroom Day, by the way, is on Feb. 4.
Twitter also is great for telling everyone when it’s National Pistachio Day (Feb. 26, which is also Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent).
Now not all of these observances are horrible. I can see myself getting behind National Margarita Day (Feb. 22). But at some point, it’s a bit absurd. And who’s in charge of deciding what gets recognized on a particular day?
Take a look at Feb. 2. Football fans immediately recognize that as Super Bowl Sunday this year. It’s also Groundhog Day, when Punxsutawney Phil makes his annual proclamation on how much winter still awaits us.
But, according to whoever lines up these observances, it’s also Hedgehog Day, National Tater Tot Day, World Wetlands Day, and my new favorite, Dump Your “Significant Jerk” Day. The timing of that seems interesting with Valentine’s Day just 12 days away.
Even Valentine’s Day shares some observances, though also calling it National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day certainly fits the theme. It’s also Ferris Wheel Day (huh?) and National Donor Day, which I guess makes a certain amount of sense.
Here’s one I think is great: Extraterrestrial Culture Day (Feb. 11), which is an officially acknowledged day in New Mexico (because Roswell, of course) that “celebrates extraterrestrial cultures, and our past, present and future relationships with extraterrestrial visitors.”
And how about the day after Valentine’s? Feb. 15 is World Pangolin Day, which honors the endangered scaly anteater. At first glance it sounds like a joke, but these mammals are among the world’s most trafficked animals and are poached at a much higher rate than rhinos.
Pangolins notwithstanding, may whatever day you choose to observe at least give you reason to smile. But you still better remember Valentine’s Day.