February is a month that's know for being cold and dreary. Spring seems so far away as the wind howls outdoors, snow flurries fly or blizzards approach.
But there's also a lot to love in February, starting with Valentine's Day, celebrated on Feb. 14 each year. Valentine's Day isn't just celebrated in the U.S. According to History.com, Canada, Mexico, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom all celebrate this special day for sweethearts of all ages.
Valentine's Day is the second most popular day for card-giving, with over 141 million greeting cards exchanged each year. That doesn't include kids' valentines exchanged in school. Show your love by giving a card or candy, making a special meal, going out to eat or spending time as a couple or as a family.
Also in February, we celebrate some month-long events. Two of those are Black History Month and Library Lovers Month. Learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and other famous African-Americans who helped fight for freedom.
A great place for your kids to learn more about these famous Americans is at your public library. During Library Lovers Month, try to visit the library every week. You may find it's a habit you'll want to continue after February is over and it doesn't cost a thing.
Every year on Feb. 2, a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow at 7:20 in the morning in Pennsylvania as people all over the world watch. On Groundhog Day, legend says that if Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. We can always hope.
On Sunday, Feb. 3, families and friends will gather in homes across the country to watch the biggest football game of the year. The Super Bowl pits the top two teams in the nation in a battle for the national title. This year, the San Francisco 49ers will take on the Baltimore Ravens. Pick your favorite team, make lots of snacks and enjoy the game.
Feb. 5 is National Pancake Day, celebrated at many IHOP locations. Visit your local IHOP for a free stack of pancakes. There's no gimmick, but the reason behind the day is one your family will embrace. IHOP raises money for Children's Miracle Network hospitals and other charities.
The Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Feb. 10. In cities with large Chinese populations, there will be parades, fireworks and celebrations. Why not have your own family celebration and start a new tradition?
Mardi Gras is a festive time in New Orleans, filled with music, parades, costumes and colorful floats. Beads of green, purple and gold called throws are tossed out to those watching the parades. Mardi Gras, the last day of the carnival season, is also the day before Ash Wednesday. On Ash Wednesday, many people receive ashes and begin to prepare spiritually for Lent, the 40 days before Easter.
Celebrate Mardi Gras on Feb. 12 by making a King Cake. Read more about making King Cakes with kids at the link following this article.
Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, was born on Feb. 12. George Washington, the father of our country and our first president, was born on Feb. 22. The two presidents' birthdays are combined and celebrated as Presidents Day. This year, that celebration will be held on Feb. 18.
If all of these aren't reasons enough to celebrate, you will see signs of spring during the month of February. There are already tiny green shoots springing up in my garden. Crocuses, hyacinths and daffodils will soon be appearing, beckoning spring. Even though spring doesn't begin until mid-March, watch for these early flowers to tell you that warmer days are coming.
There's a lot to love about the month of February. Enjoy this month as a family and show your love for one another.