February 2, 2024

Calendar Highlights - February

Calendar Highlights - February

The Berkley Schools printed calendar highlights heritage months, holidays, days of observances and recognition days. In the Berkley Beat, we’ll highlight these days with more information for community learning to help us achieve the District goal of creating an environment where all staff, students and community members feel a sense of belonging. 

Black History Month

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. 

Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history. Read more on the origins of Black History Month on the History Channel website.

Take time to learn more about Black History and attend events by visiting the following resources:

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a tradition observed in the United States and Canada on February 2 of every year. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and sees its shadow, it will retreat to its den and winter will go on for six more weeks; if it does not see its shadow, spring will arrive early.

Since 1887 a groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has been the center of a staged appearance each February 2. In what has become a media event, the groundhog “Punxsutawney Phil” is the center of attention of television weathermen and newspaper photographers

Lunar New Year - February 10, 2024

Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, falls on Saturday, February 10th, 2024, and celebrations culminate with the Lantern Festival on February 24th, 2024.

Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. It is the most important holiday in China, and it is also widely celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam, and countries with a significant overseas Chinese population. While the official dates encompassing the holiday vary by culture, those celebrating consider it the time of the year to reunite with immediate and extended family.

Commonly known as the Spring Festival in China, Lunar New Year is a fifteen-day celebration marked by many traditions. At home, families decorate windows with red paper cuttings and adorn doors with couplets expressing auspicious wishes for the new year. Shopping for holiday sundries in open-air markets and cleaning the house are also beloved traditions. The Lunar New Year’s Eve reunion dinner is the highlight that kicks off the holiday, a feast with a spread of symbolic dishes, such as a whole fish representing abundance, that bring good luck and fortune. The fifteenth and final day of the holiday is the Lantern Festival, during which people have tangyuan, or sweet glutinous rice balls, and children carry lanterns around the neighborhood at night to mark the end of the celebration.

In the Chinese zodiac, 2024 is the year of the dragon.

Source: The National Museum of Asian Art

Mardi Gras - February 13, 2024

Mardi Gras (also known as Shrove Tuesday) is the final day of Carnival or Shrovetide before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday," reflecting the practice of the last night of consuming rich, fatty foods in preparation for the fasting season of Lent.

In countries such as the United Kingdom, Mardi Gras is more usually known as Pancake Day or (traditionally) Shrove Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday).

In the United States the principal Carnival celebration is in New Orleans, Louisiana. This period is filled with elaborate parades, both day and night, building up to Mardi Gras. Beads of yellow, gold, green, and purple are commonly distributed, and the eating of king cake is an iconic part of the celebration.

Source: Britannica

Ash Wednesday - February 14, 2024

Ash Wednesday, in Western Christianity, is the first day of Lent, occurring six and a half weeks before Easter. For those who observe the Christian faith, Ash Wednesday is a solemn reminder of human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God and marks the beginning of the penitential Lenten season. It is commonly observed with the distribution of ashes and with fasting. Eastern Orthodox churches begin Lent on Clean Monday and therefore do not observe Ash Wednesday.

It was the practice in Rome for penitents and grievous sinners to begin their period of public penance on the first day of Lent in preparation for their restoration to the sacrament of the Eucharist. They were sprinkled with ashes, dressed in sackcloth, and obliged to remain apart until they were reconciled with the Christian community on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. When these practices fell into disuse (8th–10th century), the beginning of the penitential season of Lent was symbolized by placing ashes on the heads of the entire congregation.

Today, in the Roman Catholic Church, the ashes are applied in the shape of a cross on the forehead of each worshiper on Ash Wednesday. These ashes are obtained by burning the palms used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday service. 

Source: Britannica

Valentine's Day - February 14, 2024

Valentine’s Day occurs every February 14. Across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine.

Learn more about the history and origins of Valentine’s Day on the History Channel website.