Monday, February 09, 2009

A week late, but...

It’s February, a month with lots of oddities. One naturally recalls that February stands out as being the shortest month on our calendar, and that every four years, it gets tired of being seen as the baby of the family and adds another day!

Then, of course, there is that peculiar spelling. Say it with me: Feb-RU-ary. This isn’t a silent letter R, though. (Examples of silent R would be "ham sandwrich" and "encyclopredia," or maybe "library" being pronounced "liberry.") No, if it were simply silent, we would pronounce the name "Fee-boo-erry." Instead, many simply convert the R to a Y, saying "Feb-YOU-ary." Odd. Alternatively, maybe it’s actually supposed to be pronounced "Fuh-brewery."

"February" is derived, of course, from the Latin "februs" meaning "fever." It is the season for cold and flu, to be sure, but the Romans thought of something else when they thought of fever: delusions and hallucinations. This is most clearly seen in the making of seasonal forecasts by use of a woodchuck. A woodchuck, people! Plainly, there is a stroke of madness in this method! It makes me wonder, though, if the groundhog casts a shadow but doesn’t see it, what is the prediction?

Then, about the middle of the month, we celebrate the feast day of St Valentine. If ever there was a definition of fevered madness, this is surely it! This frenzied celebration of romance in which a flying baby archer goes around attempting homicide but only succeeding in boosting chocolate and flower sales must definitely be inspired by a fever-dream. And all of the ensuing amorous embraces are surely a good way to spread disease! Perhaps this is what Peggy Lee was talking about when she sang:

You give me fever when you kiss me,
Fever when you hold me tight!
Fever in the morning,
Fever all through the night!

Won’t somebody please get Ms Lee an aspirin? And remember, kids, always wash your hands after handling your Valentines! A-choo!

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