The Gregorian calendar, also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar, was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, Ugo to his friends. Before that people were always late, birthdays were missed, and iCals were glitchy.
While putting together the calendar, Pope Gregory XIII minions consulted astronomists, theologists, scientists, and scholars. During a night of heavy mead consumption, the men charged with creating our template for recording time began playing a drinking game. The specific details are sketchy at best, some historians claim a goat was killed, some claim the goat was already dead when they molested it, others believe the goat was simply fondled awkwardly for a few moments. But what they can agree on is the strange tale of the shortest month.
In the wee hours of their consultation, these men, the best and brightest the church could find who weren’t priests or priests’ lawyers, drunkenly decided to play a prank for eternity on the second month of the calendar. Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, but these men were anything but pure. They decided to make the month two to three days shorter than the other months, and then threw Valentine’s Day in the middle just for shits and giggles. Little did they know that centuries later, the month would still wreak havoc on pay periods, relationships, and bill payments. Oh, and before the Pope, himself drunk on mead and power, signed the decree Ugo added day 29 every fourth year. “Sit bastardi instar quod unus ex,” he wrote on the back of the decree.
February. The little month. Twenty-eight days of self-esteem issues. This week Headshots considers sweet little February and its many oddities.
1. The Super Bowl
The first Sunday of every February is America’s birthday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter rolled into one drunken afternoon covered with nachos. Yes, the Super Bowl, with a two-week prelude of everything that is wrong with American culture: Contrived media pieces, under-educated rich men on drugs, and Ray Lewis (13-time Pro Bowler, two-time murderer).
And when the game itself finally arrives, it bursts forth so rich in jingoism and hyperbole one unfamiliar with the religion of the NFL may be led to believe that it was second coming of Christ. And the commercials. Somehow the NFL and it’s TV network cohorts have tricked the public into enjoying being sold crap by Beyonce.
2. Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day was invented by horrible, horrible women who wanted to punish men for their behaviors the other 364 days of the year and make those condemned to singledom sniff the ragged scent of enduring love.
It has been propagated by the restaurant and chocolate heart industries, and recent studies by Headshots interns suggest that six out of ten failed relationships can trace their deaths to February 14. If there was a special someone in Headshots’ life, we would not stoop to the level of celebrating St. Valentine.
We’ll spend this year’s Valentine’s Day the way we spend each Valentine’s Day eating fried chicken and drinking bourbon in the bathtub.
3. Black History Month
Many a joke have been made about Black History Month being subjected to the shortest month of the year. But seriously, how did this get through committee? After generations of racism and treatment of African Americans that is soaked in blood and shame, the powers that be can’t give black Americans May? August? June? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and that dream was not to be given the retarded cousin of months during which to celebrate and respect a people’s history. Can’t Obama do something here?
What’s next, Aboriginal People’s Quarter Hour?
4. Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day. A day where, by legend and folklore, if a fat country rat comes out of its hole and the sun hits it at the right angle, then winter is going to end sooner. Or later. I can never remember which. And just to make this fete a little odder, there is a celebrity groundhog culture, with names like Shubenacadie Sam, Punxsutawney Phil, and French Creek Freddie.
What. The. Frack.
This might be the oddest indulgence of Western culture, and if it wasn’t for the genius of Bill Murray, there would be not point to this day at all.
5. The Leap Year
In every year of the Gregorian calendar divisible by four, an extra day is added to February. I’ve never been entirely sure as to why. I charged the interns with the task of researching the reason’s we need to endure February twenty-ninth every four years, but they came back to the offices drunk and abrasive.
“You’re a February,” they screamed before falling asleep in the staff closet. Not a good idea to give interns a Visa. It is interesting to note, however, that on February 29th some monumental and odd stuff (how fitting) has occurred. On February 29, Christopher Columbus used his knowledge of lunar eclipses that night to convince Native Americans to provide him with supplies, then killed those natives in thanks; St. Petersburg, Florida was incorporated leading to generations of confusion for Russian émigré and my second ex-wife; and the best curser in showbiz, Dennis Farina was born.
So this February, as the month of exactly four weeks goes by quickly, take a moment to consider it, to celebrate it, to revel in its oddity and individuality. Watch Groundhog Day a few times. Shoplift some chocolate, and don’t give it to anyone special. Read up on Rosa Parks. And make sure you’ve got your rent money, alimony checks, and escort bills good to go two days early. Stupid February.