Plethora of holidays punctuate the winter blahs

Just when the doldrums of winter have your head in a vice like an alligator’s fanged mouth, along comes February with fun around every corner of the calendar.

[How’s that for a Pandora’s box of metaphors?]

Only fun gets a native Minnesotan through a month like this (though sun doesn’t hurt).

Tomorrow it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Not a holiday exactly, but it comes with parties, special food, decorations, music and costumes. Sounds like a holiday to me! I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, so even for the football fans who are eh, meh, about Broncos and Panthers, there’s something to enjoy.

Monday, we celebrate Chinese New Year. I’m not Chinese, but I like egg rolls and green tea, so what’s not to celebrate? It’s the year of the Monkey, and I’m going to observe it with a banana for breakfast and a take-out meal at Panda Express.

It’s Fat Tuesday on Tuesday, the last big party of Mardi Gras. Celebrants whoop it up on this, the last day before we begin denying ourselves for Lent. Thaw the slab of beef in the freezer and uncork the Zinfandel — time to indulge.

Christians the world over, especially Catholics, observe Ash Wednesday on Feb. 10 this year. Lent is the season of preparation for Easter, during which we repent of our sins and remind ourselves of our mortality (ashes are the symbol of the dust from which we came and to which we return). A consciousness of death is not a curse, but a blessing because we are reminded to be grateful for the life we have. Pious adherents will give up something (like meat or some other indulgence) until Easter Sunday, a daily reminder to be grateful for thick steaks and wine.

Take a breath at the end of the week, and then celebrate Valentine’s Day on Sunday. Where would we be without lovers?

It’s President’s Day on Feb. 15 when Americans observe the birthdays of two our greatest presidents, George Washington, who presided over the beginning of the United States, and Abraham Lincoln, who managed to keep the union together with the Civil War. During a presidential election year when we tend to be unhappy with all our choices, it’s gratifying to remember particularly memorable presidents.

Speaking of presidential elections, I feel like it’s a holiday every time there’s a debate or a primary. I’m a political science major, after all. Pop up some popcorn and turn on the TV! (Debates this month are tonight, Feb. 11, Feb. 13 and Feb. 25; primaries this month are Tuesday, Feb. 20, Feb. 23 and Feb. 27.)

I feel the same way about the Academy Awards (mark your calendar — Feb. 28). My guilty pleasure is watching the fashion police as the stars waltz into the theater and then watching celebrities cry and say nice things about each other (you can’t beat the Original Song performances either).

And then, of course, we celebrate an extra day this year. Feb. 29 comes but once every four years. Minnesotans would prefer the extra day fall in say, June, but beggars can’t be choosers. Some people would give anything for an extra day.

Cheers!

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