Well, what do you know? All that waiting for January to be over and then February is here and almost at the halfway mark before we’ve realised what’s going on! Is it because we’re willing the year by so fast that it speeds up by ridiculous amounts, or just because February is such a short month? Who knows.
But whichever way you slice it, the second month of the year is upon us and today I’m sharing six of the best ways to celebrate it in all its frosty splendour.
If there’s one thing you should be doing in February, it’s scrubbing yourself squeaky clean.
The name “February” actually comes from the Roman word Februalia or Februatio, which was the Roman festival of ritual purification. Famous for being pretty well-groomed guys and gals, the Romans would jump in the bath at any opportunity, but this festival was one of the most important, focusing on the idea of getting super clean and ready for the arrival of spring.
I’ve recently tried to stop buying any bathing products that aren’t animal friendly, and next week I’ll be sharing my favourite finds, so make sure you tune in for that! In the meantime, as if you needed my permission to pamper yourself in a blissfully bubbly tub?
Famous for once being the provider of 90% of the world’s supply, the Rhubarb Triangle is an area of Yorkshire where rhubarb is revered, and especially throughout February. In honour of this marvellous veggie, the council hosts an annual festival in its honour, showcasing cooking demonstrations, a farmers market and even a guided tour of the forcing sheds!
And if you can’t make it to Wakefield to get involved with the action, can I suggest you at least give thanks for this groovy looking chap by baking him into a delicious crumble and topping it off with the really expensive Madagascan vanilla custard you can buy in Marks and Spencer…?
I love sheep. They have to be up there on the list of most underrated and misunderstood animals on the planet, and if you don’t believe me you need only have a look at this link to see why. They’re also quite firmly linked with a plethora of ancient festivals that happen during this time of the year, including St Blaise’s Day and the Celtic celebration of Imbolc, which actually translates as “in the belly”, referring to the pregnancy of the ewe.
February is often when lambs are born, and looking back to medieval times, sheep were perhaps the most important resource farmed at that time: providing wool and meat in abundance. So when you’re next out on a frosty morning walk and you pass a field of these woolly lovelies, stop and pay them a compliment or two. Sheep have beautiful faces and kind eyes, so you should remind them of that.
The traditional Christian celebration of Candlemas is observed on 2nd February, so I’m a little late in writing this, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t enjoy it throughout the rest of the month too. This ancient festival of light marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox. Originally Candlemas was also the day of the year when all the candles that were to be used in the church for the next 365 days were blessed by the priest.
I don’t think it’s necessary that you have to buy into anything religious that doesn’t sit well with you, but who doesn’t enjoy lighting a really gorgeous candle and relaxing under its soft, gentle glow? Do a spot of meditation accompanied only by your thoughts and the uniquely warm and special light of a candle.
For most of us, the month of February means the celebration of one particularly polarising holiday. Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day forms a big part of most people’s thoughts in the weeks running up to the fourteenth and as far as retail goes, you won’t escape it. Cards, chocolates, flowers and trinkets, it would be difficult to argue that this holiday hasn’t been snapped up as a big excuse to sell us a lot of things we don’t need.
My suggestion for honouring Valentine’s Day without getting sucked into an otherwise over-the-top and sickly experience is to try and spread your feelings of love and adoration throughout the month of February. It doesn’t matter whether it’s love for your partner, your friends, your family, pet, work colleagues or even the folks that sit opposite you on the tube every morning, have a go at practising a little outwardly appreciation on a daily basis.
For anyone living in the UK, this could be a bit of a sore point right now, and especially for anyone affected by serious flooding. My thoughts are with you all, and I can only imagine what hell it just be to watch the contents of your house wash away down the street before your eyes. Perhaps I can offer a tiny glimmer of hope, though.
The days between 12th and 14th February were traditionally said to be ‘borrowed’ from January, and it was believed that if these days were stormy, the rest of the year would be favoured with good weather. On the other hand, if these borrowed days were sunny and bright, it was thought that the year’s weather would be particularly bad.
It looks as if we’re heading straight back into a few days of wind, rain and general unpleasantness (here in the UK at least) towards the end of the week, so who knows? Perhaps all this dreary winter weather will see us good for the remaining ten months of the year.