In my younger years I used to theorize that my teachers made certain words hard to spell just to make life more difficult. They plotted against me. Perhaps I wasn’t far off. Maybe the spelling of “February” is just a small example of how teachers through the ages have met after school and brainstormed ways of making education a little more torturous:
“Any proposals for today?” one scowling teacher says to the others seated in a dimly lit secret room.
“I have an idea! No homework for the next day or two. We’ll give them a false sense of security and then—WHAM!—everyone assign unreasonable amounts of busywork on Friday.”
“GENIUS!” the group of teachers collectively cries out.
“Oh! And we should all be extremely vague about what the assignments are, and when they’re due.”
“Any other ideas?”
“I’m getting far too many perfect scores on my spelling tests. Let’s change some words—like put another r in the word Febuary.”
“Where would you want the extra r?”
“Who cares, as long as it doesn’t make any sense.”
“Why stop at February? Grab the dictionary and point to any word you see.”
“sycology – as in, ‘I want to study sycology.’”
“Throw an h in there somewhere”
“Oh! And start it off with a p.”
“No one will ever see that one coming.”
“Give us another one.”
“buffay – as in, ‘I went to eat at the buffay.’”
“Why don’t we change the ending from ay to et?”
“But that’s insane.”
“It might just be too illogical even for us.”
“We’ll just say it’s French!”
“Whew! I haven’t had so much fun since we made of the exceptions to the-I- before-E rule.
“Yeah. I’ve being thinking. Is our calendar too logical? Just dividing the year into four seasons of 91 days each might be too predictable.”
“I know. Why don’t we divide it into 12 months?”
“Would that divide equally?”
“No. That’s exactly the point. Some months can have 30 days and others 31.”
“But have one random month with only like—Oh, I don’t know—28 days.”
“Except every fourth year give it 29!”
The more I think about it, the more I realize February is just weird. And that brings us to today--Groundhog Day. Weird holiday. Should we really celebrate the day we turned to dumb rodents for our seasonal forecasting? It doesn’t exactly seem like a leap forward. That is unless the whole holiday is meant as a good joke on our weathermen—then its genius. And it's a fun a movie.
And then there’s Valentine’s Day. But we'll talk about that in a week and half.
Happy Groundhog Day!