February Rites

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February plays host to American Heart Month, Valentine’s Day, and in Carpenter Country, spring, despite the pessimism of a northern groundhog named Phil.

The first two occasions offer quite a conflict of interest. Do we eat healthy and protect our hearts–or scarf down candy and toast Cupid with champagne?

We guess we can do both and be glad we have a choice. It wasn’t always so.

Some say that once upon a time Valentine’s Day was a festival called Lupercalia. This ancient ceremony, which was thought to have originated when the Romans were still shepherds, was a fertility rite with sacrifices and feasting–and not on candy or heart healthy food.

After lots of wine, rambunctious youths, clad in goatskin, ran around touching and slapping everyone they saw with leather thongs. This ritual was thought to make people fertile. If you were in their path you were slapped, like it or not.

There are other versions about how Valentine’s Day got started, but whatever the truth, here in Carpenter Country we’re just happy we live in the 21st century. We’re also happy that, besides Heart Month and Valentine’s, modern-day February heralds the beginning of spring.

We know, because a red-breasted robin (and several hundred followers) landed in our backyard the other day. For a time, standing room only prevailed at the birdbath. Then clouds moved in, showers watered the garden and the wild plum tree burst into an array of purple blossoms. Next we’ll see white dogwoods, nesting bluebirds–but not a trace of Phil the groundhog.

We hope your plans for February are as enjoyable as ours: celebrating Valentine’s with a sweetheart, eating heart-healthy meals and singing about spring.

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