Was there a real St. Valentine? Legends say he might have been a Roman priest in the third century, who performed secret marriages against the law. Unfortunately, those who have studied the matter say this tale is possibly just colorful imagination. St. Valentine's day wasn't associated with romantic love until it was popularized by Chaucer in the late Middle Ages.
How about Punxsutawney Phil? That's the Pennsylvania groundhog which is said to predict the weather. This particular rodent (who probably has been a series of his species) has been consulted since 1886, but even before that, both Germanic and Celtic legends include stories of a hibernating animal's shadow foretelling of the length of winter. Sadly, Phil has only been right 39% of the time.
Was George Washington's birthday actually February 22, as we observed it in our school days? Yes and no. He was actually born under the old Julian Calendar on February 11, 1731. But when England changed to the newer Gregorian calendar, people were instructed to add eleven days to their birthdates. Furthermore, if they were born between January 1 and March 25, like Washington, they were to add an additional year! Our first President's birthday is now celebrated with others' on Presidents Day, which is Feb. 20 this year.
Is the Mardi Gras' carnival just a big party? Not originally. The word "carnival" comes from the Latin words for "taking away meat," which referred to the fasting done by Christians as the season of Lent began the day after Mardi Gras (or "Fat Tuesday"). Modern-day partying is done in anticipation of the weeks of reflection and being deprived.
True, partly true or just plain made-up, the myths of February provide us with some interesting and entertaining holidays. Celebrate!
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