Reaching February, for those of us who do not celebrate anything in it, is not exactly a party. First, because it is an incomplete month. The only one that can have a day more or one less and also the culprit that the years are leap years or not. Even worse with the stigma that right in the middle of the month – or almost, because in February you don’t know if half is in the middle – you have to celebrate love. That is, to be in love and, moreover, to be reciprocated, hopefully from a corresponding love that pays what it owes and owes nothing. (All this in case so much pressure was not enough).
It is in the days of February when we are most likely to think about gifts offered and never received, about how to get all the tamales gobbled up on Candlemas Day out of our system or to inaugurate the scourge of wondering why we have failed in our intentions of starting a diet. and exercise (at the risk of drifting into the other scourge of wondering where Fate has thrown us). Enough of the rigors, my good, enough – as Sor Juana would have said – and let’s live this final day of January with knowledge of the cause and in another way.
February, whose name comes from Latin, referred to februas, days where a Purification Festival was held in all the regions of ancient Rome. In it, washing the body –and the sins– with abundant water, was the main activity and mandate. Those parties and the entire month, as was appropriate, were consecrated to Neptune, the Latin god of all waters and seas.
Today, which we already know is the second month of the year in the Gregorian calendar, sometimes with 28 and sometimes with 29 days, it may be a curious relief to note that on some rare occasions there was a February 30: during the conversion of the Julian calendar to the Gregorian or perhaps hope is renewed knowing that precisely tomorrow, February 1, the Chinese New Year begins, zodiacally consecrated to the Water Tiger and will not end until January 23. (All this in case you want to review the horoscopes and decide to plan a whole year again).
Once willing to revise the dates in another way, everything can result in happy finds. The work –and the birthdays– of characters who were born in the month that is also born tomorrow. All worthy of an essay, a reminder of well-placed words and a careful reading. Options there are many. On February 2, for example, James Joyce was born, three days later William Burroughs, the fearsome beatnik genius (who wrote in his notebook: “Grace came to me in the form of a cat” and shot his wife between the eyes while playing William Tell) and that this year he would be celebrating his 108th birthday. On February 8 Jules Verne is remembered, who after confessing that he would write “the novel of science” did not stop his frantic pace of work until he gave us balloons that flew around the world, a trip to the bottom of the sea and another to the center of the earth.
Historically, although it is not so funny, it is never too much to say that Ignacio Manuel Altamirano died in February, even if it happened in San Remo, nor to remember that it was also February when the negotiations between the Mexican and French plenipotentiaries, meeting in the port of Veracruz they put an end to the Pie War reparations issue. Very sad to talk about the 349 years of Molière’s death in the middle of the scene and shocking to remember that the Columbia shuttle exploded when returning to Earth in February 2003.
Better persevere in the good, the happy and the great. Acknowledging admiration before it turns into envy –for not being born in February– and admitting that composing sayings and words about great characters and dedicating yourself to reading them later may seem useless and chimerical, but it will help us to live the coming month more happy and satisfied. There is everything. In case the agenda is missing a character, it is worth noting that Galileo was born on February 15 – the one who discovered the imperfection of the moon by looking at it in his telescope; on the 16th Carlos Pellicer, a poet who filled everything he touched with the sun; On the 7th Charles Dickens and Guillermo Prieto came into the world on the morning of the 10th. And although Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer was born on February 17 and the return of his dark swallows does not seem as close to us as the verses of Don Juan Tenorio written by José Zorrilla –who was born on the 21st– it would be well worth learning a couple.
Time will continue to run and the days will pass one after another. It will be up to you, dear reader, to decide between Miguel León Portilla and Schopenhauer when they were both born in February or simply think that today is the last day, but tomorrow the first.