Celebrating an eventful month

Published 9:50 pm Saturday, February 3, 2018

It’s February again. What comes to mind when we’ve embarked on the month of February? Let’s see what’s to be remembered, observed or celebrated in February.

Feb. 1 marked the 15th anniversary of the tragic Space Shuttle Columbia disaster that took the lives of all seven astronauts on board as they were returning to Earth’s atmosphere. The seven astronauts, who perished along with the disintegration of the Columbia, were Rick Husband, William McCool, David Brown, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla and Ilan Ramon, who was an Israeli Air Force Colonel-fighter pilot and the first Israeli in space. May they rest in peace.

This Sunday, Feb. 4, is that much anticipated Super Bowl LII, the National Football League championship game between Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots in Minneapolis, Minn. Who’s looking forward to all the million-dollar ads and the halftime show performance of singer-turned-actor Justin Timberlake? By the way, who are you rooting for to win the game and the MVP? I’m sure the pre-Super Bowl LII party has started in some households, with those bowls of hot wings, chips and bottles of beer and wine ready to be served to our guests. Have fun, guys, but be safe as always. If you do drink alcohol, don’t drive. Designate a driver or make arrangements with the party host to spend the night in their house.

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Feb. 8 is this year’s second observance of International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, an annual event to raise awareness and encourage reflection on the violence and injustice that impact victims of human trafficking.

The theme of this year’s event, which is celebrated on the Feast Day of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Canossian Sister who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, is “They are children! Not slaves!”

Feb. 11, Sunday, is World Marriage Day, a day to celebrate the sacrament of marriage. This event, sponsored by American organization Worldwide Marriage Encounter, associated with the Catholic marriage Encounter movement, is observed on the Sunday of February each year to honor husband and wife as the foundation of a family. It offers an opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with the supporting and promoting marriage and family.

Feb. 13 is this year’s Mardi Gras, the French word for “Fat Tuesday,” the last day of celebrating and feasting before the fasting, abstinence and other religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.

Always the day before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras is also known as Shrove Tuesday, which is derived from the word shrive, meaning “confess.”

Apparently, Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 is a Wednesday, which coincides with this year’s Ash Wednesday — the first day of the season of Lent, observed by many Western Christians including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics and other Christian denominations.

“Day of Ashes” is the official name of Ash Wednesday because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross by a priest, as he utters these words: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” By the way, ashes come from the palm branches from last year’s Palm Sunday.

Originated from Jewish traditions of penance and fasting and prayer, Ash Wednesday emphasizes the theme of our sinfulness before God and our human mortality.

Next, of course, is the ever popular Love Day, The Day of Hearts, Feb. 14, otherwise known as Valentine’s Day. I bet a lot of couples have already booked in for their romantic getaways or planned something special for their Valentine’s Day. Let that flame of love always continue to reign in your hearts as your love for your spouse or significant other continues to grow and develop such that your relationship becomes stable and strong and will be forever.

Also called Spring Festival, Chinese New Year 2018, the Year of the Dog, is celebrated on Feb. 16, an event to discover traditions and taboos, dishes and drinks that are part of China’s most important holiday.

Feb. 19 is Presidents Day, a holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February, each year, in honor of George Washington, the first president of the United States, who was born Feb. 22, 1732. The holiday is popularly recognized as also honoring Abraham Lincoln, born on Feb. 12, and sometimes all the U.S. presidents.

The whole month of February is devoted to the celebration of Black History Month. The event is also observed in Canada, and, likewise, in the United Kingdom and Netherlands, but in October.

Recognizing Black History Month during the celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial, President Gerald Ford urged Americans “to seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

There you have it, my dear folks and friends, far and wide, some of the events that are in store for us in February.

 

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.