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February 2, 2014

Today we celebrate:

Candelmas – a Christian holiday that celebrates three events: the presentation of the child Jesus, Jesus' first entry into the temple, and the purification of the Virgin Mary.

Crepe Day or La Chandeleur – In France, crepes are traditionally served on Candelmas. While the French are making the crepes, they tell fortunes. You are supposed to hold a coin in your writing hand and the crepe pan in your other hand, flip the crepe into the air and catch it back in the pan. If you can do this, your family will prosper for the rest of that year. I'm not sure how many tries you get. I would probably need a lot.

Groundhog Day – On this day, the ground hog, Punxsutawney Phil, is woken up from his hibernation and forced to come outside into the cold. If it is cloudy and the groundhog cannot see its' shadow, then spring will come early this year. If it is sunny, the groundhog will see its' shadow and go back to bed and winter will continue for six more frigid weeks. In certain areas, like Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the day is celebrated with food, speeches and possibly some plays.

Super Bowl XLVIII – For all the football fans out there, this is the biggest day of the year. I have no idea who is playing and no opinion on who should win. Don't criticize me, I'm just not a football fan. The NFL people have attempted to make this a national holiday and turn it into a three day weekend. No success so far with that.

Marmot Day – Alaska doesn't have many groundhogs so in 2009, the 26th Alaska State Legislature voted to have Marmot Day replace Groundhog Day. Marmots, in case you don't know, look very much like groundhogs but are considered to be large squirrels. They tend to live in mountainous areas.

Groundhog Job Shadow Day – This is a day for young people to get an up close and personal look at various jobs so that they can see which ones would suit them better. So they shadow various professionals who sign up for the honor of being a mentor. I'm not sure why the word Groundhog is part of the name, but I am certain that shadowing groundhogs is not one of the options today.

Hedgehog Day – According to legend, hedgehogs were the original groundhogs. The Romans would watch the hedgehogs on February 2nd at night. If a hedgehog came out and saw his shadow in the moonlight, he would go back in and hibernate some more and winter was not easing up any time soon. When people came to America, they switched to the groundhog because hedgehogs were hard to find in this country.

Imbolc – This is a Pagan holiday, which celebrates the first signs of spring. I don't see any first signs of spring yet, but maybe I'm not looking hard enough. It is the day when they celebrate the passing of winter and make way for the arrival of spring.

Sled Dog Day – Sled dogs have been used in the upper regions of the continent since the 10th century. This day in particular is important because it was on this day in 1925 that Balto and Gunnar Kaasen arrived in Nome, Alaska with the medicine to save the town from the diptheria epidemic. Of course, we all know about Balto, but it should be noted that Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog, Togo, had the longest and most dangerous leg of the relay. Balto just had the last leg, which does not diminish his accomplishment but it should remind us that there were 20 men and about 150 sled dogs involved in that 674 mile relay to save a city.

World Play Your Ukulele Day – I'm not sure if this is today or May 2nd. I've seen both days talked about on the web. But if you know how to play one, go ahead and celebrate twice.

World Wetlands Day – On this day in 1971, the Ramsar Convention was signed. This raised public awareness of wetland values and benefits. The theme for this year's celebration is “Wetlands and Agriculture” since this is the UN International Year of Family Farming, as I'm sure you knew.

Heavenly Hash Day – This is a day to have some Heavenly Hash for dessert. Ingredients for this heavenly dish vary widely from region to region, it could have ice cream, brownies, cookies, rice, marshmallows, fruit or whipped cream or any combination of those items and others. Make your own favorite recipe and enjoy.

Ayn Rand Day – Born on this day in 1905, Ms. Rand was an American novelist, philosopher, playwright and screen writer. Her most famous novels were, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. She came to America from her homeland of Russia when she was 21 years old. She was a big influence among Libertarians.

To celebrate today, have some crepes for Candelmas while you watch the groundhog/marmot/hedgehog predict the weather. The play your ukulele while you ride your sled, pulled by your handy to have around sled dogs, around the wetlands nearby your neighborhood looking for signs of spring. Then read The Fountainhead while you eat heavenly hash before you embark on your expedition shadowing one of the quarterbacks at the Super Bowl.

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