February, 2019

3268zauber [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Here we are in February, the last month of winter meteorologically speaking.  The symbolic flowers for February are the violet and, my favorite, the primrose.

The entire month of February is National Black History Month when we pay tribute to the generations of African-Americans who struggled to achieve full citizenship in American Society. In 1976 President Gerald R. 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” when he set aside the month for this remembrance.  

There is wonderful website that is a collaborative project of the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.  It contains a wide range of information through images, audio and video presentations, and various exhibits and collections.  There is a special section “For the Teacher” that has ready-to-use lesson plans, student activities, and research guides to help distill information and present it to students.

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=540885

February 4 is also Rosa Parks Birthday.  Rosa Parks (2/4/1913-10/24/2005) was a civil rights activist, who after a full day’s work as a seamstress refused to move to a seat in the “colored section” of the bus while white passengers were standing.  She was arrested for this act of “defiance,” which ignited a boycott of Mongomery buses by its African American citizens.  This small action by this very brave individual created widespread reaction across the country and eventually lifted the enforcement of segregation on public buses.   Thanks to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the bus now resides in the Henry Ford Museum in Deerborn, Michigan.

Picture of Chinese Lanterns copied from https://www.chinahighlights.com/

February 5, Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday in China and to Chinese people everywhere.  It is celebrated by 20% of the world’s population and symbolizes new beginnings and fresh starts. February 4, New Year’s Eve, kicks off the 15-day festival with a family “reunion”, which is the most important part of the holiday and the most important meal of the year.  Everyone is expected to celebrate at home with their families.  

Firecrackers and fireworks end the New Year’s Eve celebrations. As with all cultural celebrations, special foods, traditions, and rituals are associated with the festival.  The Lantern Festival is the end of the Chinese New Year celebration and occurs on the first full moon night of the Chinese calendar, which in 2019 is February 19.  The year 2019 is the year of the pig, the 12th of all the zodiac symbols.  In the Chinese culture, the pig symbolizes wealth. 

Valentine’s Day, although a joyous occasion, can be a very sad day for some people… people who are alone, lonely, who have recently lost a loved one.  So, why don’t we skip forward to February 17, Random Acts of Kindness Day.  On this day surprise someone with flowers, a pot of primroses, candy, a pretty card, whatever says “you are special” today.  Here at the Power of Flowers Project, most days are Random Acts of Kindness days.  We deliver our refreshed, rearranged, and repurposed signature bouquets to people in nursing homes, senior centers, meals on wheels, veterans hospitals; wherever there are people in need of a smile.  Click  here to learn how you can Help in our mission to spread joy one flower at a time.  Other ways you can “celebrate” Random Acts of Kindness Day is by complimenting a stranger; bringing some non-perishable items to your local food bank; paying for the coffee for the next person in line at Dunks; calling your parents or your grandparents or someone you haven’t talked to in a while.  You get the idea.

Charles Whitney (Worcester, Massachusetts, USA) Valentine, 1887

In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon added Washington’s Birthday to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.  It wasn’t long before the bank holiday was named Presidents’ Day and was expanded to include Abraham Lincoln as well as George Washington.  Today it is a day to remember the accomplishments of all the men who have held the chief executive office.   This year, February 18 is Presidents’ Day. (It’s also National Drink Wine Day… just sayin’.)

Damir Jelic [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons
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