There are actually three holidays left in february after the 14th
There are some holidays that dominate, there’s no denying them. What is an American calendar without Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day and all the rest that define each month? Somehow they overshadow the smaller holidays, but that doesn’t make those smaller any less important. That being said, February isn’t only Valentine’s Day, but there are only three holidays left of the month. Here’s what’s coming up in America.
On Monday, Febr. 20 , America will be observing President’s Day. This holiday is
called different names all over the nation, some states referring to it as George Washington’s Birthday or Washington and Lincoln’s Birthday, but regardless of name, all Americans celebrate this pretty awesome day. This holiday, held on every third Monday of February, was created to honor George Washington and his presidency. Washington, whose birthday is Feb. 22, 1732, also shares this honor with Lincoln, whose birthday was Feb. 12. Both Presidents were extremely important to American history, so what better way to honor them than by giving them an entire day?
Up until the late 1980’s, most corporate businesses were closed to give respect to those persons who serve as President, but today most stores hold sales to boost their finances, a tribute to the capitalist society our government runs. Adam Smith would certainly be proud. Certain schools throughout the country close for the day or even for the week, but like the name of the holiday, it depends on the state. There are only two cities who host celebrations, though. Alexandria, Virginia hosts a month-long tribute for the holiday and even has the longest running “George Washington Birthday” parade. In Eustis, Florida, a “George Fest” has been hosted every year since 1902. Even though they’re the only big parties, every American still celebrates this holiday in their own way.
Four days after President’s Day, the Hindu festival, Mahashivaratri, will be celebrated. This holiday is in honor of the god Shiva with the date differing each year, determined by the Hindu calendar and when the Shivaratri in every luni-solar month falls. In late winter before spring (February or March), the “Great Night of Shiva” occurs and is called Mahashivaratri. This year, it falls on Friday, Feb. 24. The holiday is celebrated for three to ten days, the length of celebration determined by the luni-solar calendar.While most Hindu festivals are celebrated during the day, Mahashivaratri is celebrated at night for it symbolizes overcoming darkness and ignorance in the world. In order to overcome this, Hindus maintain a jaagaran, or all-night vigil and prayers. Other practices include chanting prayers, fasting, doing yoga and meditating on ethics and virtues. This introspective focus allows people to reflect on self-restraint, honesty, non-injury to others, forgiveness and the discovery of Shiva. The importance of this holiday is significant in the fact that it is believed to absolve past sins, a good thing to cleanse the soul and hope for future prosperity.
The last day of February is hosting the infamous Mardi Gras (and my roommate’s birthday). This French
celebration is celebrated heavily in New Orleans, Louisiana, and literally translates to “Fat Tuesday” in English. Observed by Orthodox Christians, this is a day to indulge in rich, fatty foods before the month-long fasting season called Lenten. Most people who celebrate Mardi Gras no longer do it for religious purposes but rather for the party and widely- anticipated parade. Orthodox Christians still recognize it as the celebration before Ash Wednesday, but most attendees come for the colorful beads, great food, and shirtless women.
Regardless of your reasons for being there, this is one celebration everyone is able to enjoy, just like every holiday in February. Next time you think of February as the month of love, just remind yourself that it’s also the month of Presidents, riddance of sins and colorful, elaborate food parties.