Forlorn, Frostbitten, Forgettable, February

by Kevin Burton

   Most people, hate, February.

   My research is not exhaustive, but I have looked into this a little bit. If your research finds otherwise, I will stand corrected.

  But I found this:

  “February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March.”
– Dr. J. R. Stockton

   And this: 

   “February is just plain malicious. It knows your defenses are down.”
– Katherine Paterson

   And this:

  “The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February.”
– Joseph Wood Krutch

   I know some people are neutral on February, as I have been heretofore, not much thinking about it. We’ve just gotten accustomed to being in a new year. We are working on our plans for the spring and warm weather, not so much contemplating February.

  Teacher Nathan White however, is no fence sitter. His comments come under the headline “February sucks!”

     “I hate February. I’m a teacher. Every year, for the last 23 years, I get to February and it seems like The Never-Ending Story. It seems like we aren’t going to survive this month,” White writes.

   “The name itself sucks. It’s like one of the dumbest words in our language. FEB ROO ERY? FEB U ERY? Silent R in the middle of a word? Dumb.

   White goes breathlessly on without elaborating on the month’s pronunciation. But let’s you and I pause there.

   You know there areYou Tube videos on how to fold a fitted sheet, on how to  plant peppers or play John Lennon’s guitar triplets in the Beatles’ song All My Loving. Did you know there are also You Tube videos on how to pronounce February? 

  While “Feb-RU-ary” is still considered the standard pronunciation, most dictionaries recognize the pronunciation of February without the first “r” (“Feb-U-ary”) as an acceptable variant, writes Richard Nordquist on “Not everyone is so tolerant.”

   “In his Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations (2005), purist Charles Harrington Elster defends the ‘traditional and cultivated pronunciation.’ February, he says, ‘is a different word and a different month, with a peculiar spelling, a peculiar pronunciation, and a very peculiar number of days, all of which adds up to the fact that we must treat the creature with particular respect.’”

   “Yet in common speech, the shortest month has long been abused. In The New Schoolmaster, a one-act play that appeared in Sargent’s School Monthly in May 1858, Mr. Hardcase says of February that “there is a prejudice in favor of an ‘r’ at the beginning of the second syllable; but if you choose to drop it, where’s the harm?’” Nordquist writes.

  Whichever side you fall on, the need for the discussion is a pain in the neck.

   Did you ever notice that all the months with the really good weather – March through August – have either one or two syllables in the name. You get to September and there are three syllables for a while, until you get to Jan-u-ar-y and Feb-ru-a-ry. The names are as long and drawn out as the months seem to be.  

   “I hate February. Part of it is the weather,” White writes. “Even if you love winter, it’s been happening since November. It’s time for a change. The gray, the cold, the snow, and the ice are no longer cute like during Pumpkin Spice Season. Everybody thinks they want flannels and fires in October; by February, we are over that (substance).”

   If you look into why February is the shortest month, you’re going to get more than you really want about ancient Rome.  To cut to the chase, it appears Julius Caesar is the one who tied the calendar to the movements of the sun, left February short and stuck it with leap day. 

   Who among us is cheated more than Leap Day babies?  Through no fault of their own, their special day is like World Cup soccer, coming around not every year, but every four years.  And what about those web-based forms that only have 28 days for February in their drop-down menus?

   As I said earlier, I am neutral. But for every Charmaine J. Ford, who wrote “Though February is short, it is filled with lots of love and sweet surprises” you find fistfuls of quotes such as:

   “Why does February feel like one big Tuesday?
– Todd Stocker. And:

   “When God was making the months, I think February was a mistake, like a burp. There it was, small, dark, and prickly. It had absolutely no redeeming qualities.
– Shannon Wiersbitzky. And:

   “Even though February was the shortest month of the year, sometimes it seemed like the longest.
– J.D. Robb.

   Well dear readers, have a nice month!

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Wow! Well, all I can say is that here in Texas, we ended January in the midst of an ice storm and as yet, February has not brought an end to it. Should happen in the next day or two but we’ll see about that. Ugh!

    Tracy Duffy



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