February 2021 - Celebrating Global Traditions
Well, we had so much hope for 2021 to start off on a better foot. Oh well… Let’s hope February does better! We are about to enter the shortest month of year with hope for better things; and as always, our goal is share a bit about what’s happening in the world around us; what celebrations or quirky traditions are being celebrated by our peers, our employees, our customers and partners. February may be a short month, but it’s a busy month so let’s see what’s coming!
Black History Month
February is also widely known in the United States and Canada as Black History Month, where we celebrate the historical challenges and contributions of Black leaders, scientists, artists and freedom fighters. Black History month was created because an incredibly important part of American (and Canadian) history was left out of schoolbooks, literature and public celebrations. To compensate for that absence, this month offers almost daily celebrations, film festivals, documentaries, lectures and other educational opportunities for everybody.
Groundhog Day - the 2nd
Also kicking off this month on February 2nd is Groundhog Day, a day that celebrates the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Many people also believe it celebrates an American tradition where the beloved groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, emerges to determine whether we will observe six more weeks of winter, or see an early Spring arrive.
Philippines Constitution Day - the 2nd
Also celebrated on February 2nd is Philippines Constitution Day! There have been six constitutions since the proclamation of independence in 1898 and the adoption of every new constitution required the changing of Constitution Day. The current constitution of the Philippines came into force on February 11, 1987, but the celebration of Constitution Day was ratified to February 2 in 1988 and it still holds true today! So happy Constitution Day to my Filipino friends!
Chinese New Year - the 11th to 26th
One of the most important celebrations across Asia starts early this year – from February 11 to February 26. I’m speaking of the Chinese New Year – an incredible 16-day celebration starting from Chinese New Year's Eve to the Lantern Festival. This holiday is one of the reasons I started sharing Global Traditions in the first place. If you have customers, employees or friends in Asia, you need to understand that this is THE holiday of the year, dwarfing almost all other celebrations. This year marks the year of the Ox – a perfect year to work hard to get out of the Rat of a year we faced in 2020.
February 12th marks the New Year in many other Asian countries as well, each with their own special traditional difference, including Dangpa Losar in Bhutan, Losar in Tibet, Seol-nai in Korea, Tet Nguyne Dan in Vietnam and Tsagaa Sar in Mongolia! It’s a time of incredible celebration Asia and one of my favorite times of the year!
Valentine’s Day - the 14th
And a gentle reminder to those of you in relationships, don’t forget February 14th is Valentine’s Day. This holiday was originally a Christian holiday but has evolved into a more secular celebration of love and romance! Our colleagues from China may be more familiar with the Qixi Festival (also known as The Double Sevens Festival) which is usually observed in August but bears the most resemblance to the traditions of Valentine’s Day.
Lunar New Year - the 16th
February 16th has as many different traditions around the world as the Lunar New Year in Asia. This Tuesday goes by many names all celebrating the final day before Ash Wednesday (the first day of the Christian period of Lent, leading up to Easter Sunday. Lent is a period of sacrifice, so the Tuesday before lent is often associated with the final day of celebration and indulgence.
Shrove Tuesday - Fat Tuesday - the 16th
Shrove Tuesday is observed in many Christian countries by participating in confession and absolution alongside food (often pancakes) and sweets. In my family, we celebrated it as Pancake Tuesday, when my Polish father always made thin crepe-style Nalesniki with lemon and sugar!
But the most globally famous (and infamous) celebrations on this Tuesday go by other names! The term Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday," referring to the rich, fatty foods eaten before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. While celebrated in many French-speaking parts of the world, New Orleans, Louisiana in the United State has become synonymous with this holiday. In most years, crowds celebrate from dusk to dawn eating, drinking, wearing gaudy costumes, fancy masks and throwing beads leading up to an extravagant parade of ornately decorated floats and characters!
Sadly, due to the global pandemic, there will be no parade this year and hopefully the fancy masks will be replaced by N95 versions if the celebrations happen anyway!
Carnival, or Carnevale, has been celebrated for centuries throughout Italy. The name is said to derive from the words carne vale - 'farewell to meat' - which explain the function of the celebration. Fasching is celebrated in Germany (and in particular, Koeln) while the Carnival of Brazil is the spectacular equivalent celebration in that incredible country! All in all, the 16th of February is one of the most colorful, flamboyant and spectacular days on the planet in most years and let’s hope it’s safer this year.
Purim - the 25th-26th
For the last holiday of the month, we continue raucous celebration! February 25-26 means it’s time to celebrate Purim on the Jewish calendar. This holiday begins with dressing up in costume (many people choose to dress as characters from the Purim story) but must include listening to the story of Purim chanted from Megillat Esther (“The Scroll of Esther”) and to hear every word. It is customary to make a lot of noise with a noisemaker called a ra’ashan every time Haman’s name is mentioned, in order to fulfill the obligation of blotting out Haman’s name. A fun tradition on this holiday includes the performance of a Purim spiel, a funny skit of the Purim story or just a funny skit in general.
Solmonath - Mud Month
In case you’re curious, February went by other names before adopting Latin. The common Old English name was Solmonath, which is not related to the sun (sol) but rather mud or dirt in old English. So, there you have it!
Happy Mud Month!