February Holidays, Ranked: A sardonic take on the holidays of the month

Only two more of this series for me. Seems like just yesterday I started writing about May holidays, and now it’s February. Time flies.

5. Plum Pudding Day – February 12

Plum pudding – made famous by its alter ego, figgy pudding, from “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” (which, on that topic, is a song primarily about demanding figgy pudding in more and more certain terms, with some holiday well-wishes thrown in. Very odd.) is obviously kind of out of style. The only reason I know a damn thing about plum pudding is because I paid attention in chemistry in high school and know that when scientist JJ Thompson was studying the atom, he thought that maybe it was a positively-charged mass with some negatively-charged electrons swimming around in the middle. He called his model the Plum Pudding Model. I guess the electrons are supposed to be the plums in the pudding. Based on this description, I feel like my life is going pretty well, despite my having never come close to plum pudding, and I’d like to keep it that way.

4. Valentine’s Day – February 14

I’m of two minds about Valentine’s Day. One is, yes, it is a terrible consumerism-holiday where we are all expected to buy some material thing to validate the love we have for one another. Not great.

The other side, though, is that it provides a nice societal cue to think about doing something nice with your partner or, for single people, to do something nice with friends. It’s so easy for relationships to become routine – sometimes a reason to be thoughtful like this is helpful. It’s almost like, in a layered way of thinking, consumeristic Valentine’s Day is a common enemy that we can all band together against, and we end up being closer because of it. Thanks, Valentine’s Day.

But it’s imperative that you enjoy it in this specific, nuanced way. If you’re just like “woo, Valentine’s Day” we probably aren’t going to be great friends. 

Plus, it’s also Ferris Wheel Day!

3. Ferris Wheel Day – February 14

People laughed at Buddy Cianci when he proposed (in this blast-from-the-past YouTube video) that the Providence Waterfront be redeveloped to include a number of recreational assets — a cruise ship terminal, soccer fields, and, of course, a Ferris Wheel. I thought it was cool. We gotta do something with that waterfront. 

Anyway, Ferris Wheel Day commemorates the birthday of George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., the creator of the Ferris Wheel, originally made for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. It’s the same fair Erik Larson wrote The Devil in the White City about, exploring OG serial killer HH Holmes. It’s a good thing Holmes chose not to off ol’ Georgie — what would carnivals be today without his contribution?

Also, it’s very easy to go down the Wikipedia rabbit hole with the Holmes guy. I would recommend it if you like true crime stuff.

2. Mardi Gras – February 21

“Mardi Gras” means “Fat Tuesday,” because it was the day before Lenten sacrifices and fasting. Back in the day, you’d want to eat all that fatty stuff you had lying around because you couldn’t eat it the next day. Why not make a celebration of it? Though that kind of sounds like saying, “I’m starting a diet tomorrow, so let’s eat a bunch of cake today!” I guess I’m cool with it if God is. 

Then the Bourbons of France added a tradition of masquerade balls to the mix, and now there’s things called “krewes,” which are social clubs that help organize the parades, and there’s a bunch of beads and boobs thrown in there as well. Apparently this started as a Catholic observance? I’ll be honest, I still don’t really get it. Seems like just a bunch of chaos, and I’m here for it. An author in 1835 summed it up this way: 

All of the mischief of the city is alive and wide awake in active operation. Men and boys, women and girls, bond and free, white and black, yellow and brown, exert themselves to invent and appear in grotesque, quizzical, diabolic, horrible, strange masks, and disguises. Human bodies are seen with heads of beasts and birds, beasts and birds with human heads; demi-beasts, demi-fishes, snakes’ heads and bodies with arms of apes; man-bats from the moon; mermaids; satyrs, beggars, monks, and robbers parade and march on foot, on horseback, in wagons, carts, coaches, cars, etc., in rich confusion, up and down the streets, wildly shouting, singing, laughing, drumming, fiddling, fifeing, and all throwing flour broadcast as they wend their reckless way.

This is nuts.

1. Super Bowl Sunday – February 12

Sports! Football! Pats! Brady! Belichek! Red Sox! A Rod! Gillette! I’m a big sports guy as you can tell. (ed. Note – our writer repeatedly misspelled Super Bowl. We think he was messing with us) 

The Super Bowl is fun. I love the snacks, the halftime show, and the commercials. And I’ve actually enjoyed the game too in recent years, now that I have a small idea of what’s actually happening on the field. And you know I’m right there yelling loudly about bad calls and touchdowns with the rest of ‘em. 

They don’t know that I picked which team I wanted to win based on the name and mascot a few minutes before I walked into the party. Ravens are great birds, I’m a huge Ravens fan. And did you know they were named that after Edgar Allan Poe’s eponymous poem? 

For all anyone knows, they’ve been my team as long as I’ve been a football fan. Which honestly wouldn’t be too unbelievable of a timeline.