Sunday, March 1, 2020

Ah, the day that allowed us to pursue the social media handle and web domains for Celebrate366 instead of Celebrate365, which would have been much harder to snag. It was a weird and wonderful Leap Day, with surprisingly little to celebrate.

Bachelor’s Day

According to Marriage Customs of the World, February 29 features the Irish tradition of Bachelor’s Day. On this day women can ask men to dance, and also propose marriage. The upper-class European extension of this tradition dictates that if the man refuses marriage, he must purchase 12 pairs of gloves for the lady, that way she will be able to hide the shame of being unwed. This sounds like a great way for a woman to amass a tremendous glove collection. Every four years she can pop the question to six or seven bachelors and grab herself a heap of hand-wear.

Jodie popped the question to me yesterday – just for fun, we’ve already spent a bankroll on one wedding. I said yes, mostly because I’d re-marry her any day of any four-year-span, but also because I didn’t want to leave the house and go glove shopping.

This is an odd Leap Day tradition. And I was saddened to discover it’s really the only blatantly odd Leap Day tradition out there, apart from the Scots believing it’s unlucky to be born on this day, or the Greeks considering it unlucky to get married in a leap year – especially on this day. It’s not. Do your thing.

Leap Day

So what can we do for Leap Day then? For this I’m going to turn to the mountains of unused research I did for this project last year. My plan was to commemorate famous birthdays, historical events, and even album releases on every day. As some of you may have noticed, I’m already clocking in at 1,000-2,000 words of writing every day, plus social media posts, plus actual celebrating. So all that research is going to collect dust. For now.

Except for today. Here’s what I found out about Leap Days past:

  • In 1980, Gordie Howe – then a 51-year-old Hartford Whaler – scored his 800th career goal. 800. Freaking amazing.
  • Eight years later, Svend Robinson, an NDP Member of Parliament representing Burnaby, BC, became the first Canadian MP to come out as gay.
  • In 2012 construction was completed on the Tokyo Skytree, pictured above. It’s a broadcasting and observation tower, and the tallest tower in the world. The only human-built thing taller than this is the Burj Khalifa.
  • The last Saturday in February is known as World Sword Swallowers Day. This has nothing to do with Leap Day specifically, but I wanted to mention it since we won’t actually be celebrating it.

Born on February 29:

  • William A. Wellman (1896), who directed Wings, the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • Dickey Pearce (1836), who is suspected of being one of the first baseball players to earn actual money from playing the game. He also pioneered the bunt and the shortstop position.
  • Howard Nemerov (1920), twice the Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress, and winner of the National Book Award for Poetry and the Pulitzer. An over-achiever – also, his sister was Diane Arbus, the photographer.
  • Jimmy Dorsey (1904), who was big band royalty.
  • Alex Rocco (1936), one of my favourite character actors. He was Moe Green, the man who took no shit (but one well-placed bullet) from Michael Corleone, the brilliant agency boss on The Famous Teddy Z (a TV show no one on earth remembers but me), and the voice of Roger Myers Jr., producer of The Itchy & Scratchy Show.
  • Dennis Farina (1944), another of my favourite character actors. A cop for nearly two decades, he made the perfect tough guy in Midnight Run, Get Shorty, and Snatch. This is my favourite three second moment of his career right here.

Open That Bottle Night

This is a night to crack open a bottle of whatever you’ve got sitting around the house. We had a bottle of Peller Family Shiraz that Jodie’s mom had given us for Christmas. We’re not big wine drinkers, but this was a tasty way to celebrate the end of our second month of this project, our passing of 300 celebrations earlier this week, and my return to the land of the healthy. Even if that means I have to go back to work on Monday.

This celebration was created by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, two columnists with Tastings, and the idea was for people to connect over the bottle and to create good memories. It was just the two of us last night, but we made some fine memories together, hanging with our dogs (who skipped the wine).

Today, in addition to wishing a big happy birthday to my mom, is a crazy mutha of a day:

  • National Peanut Butter Lovers Day. Peanut Butter Day was January 24. I guess this is only for people who… love it? Whatever, we’ll celebrate this food again.
  • National Fruit Compote Day. I had some of this yesterday, but I think we’re looking at a double-celebration with some PB&J action.
  • National Minnesota Day. Our own twist on blueberry walnut pancakes, which are apparently a big deal in Minneapolis.
  • World Compliment Day. Lots of people will be getting kind words today – none of it will be insincere.
  • National Pig Day. Bacon for brunch, pork tenderloin for dinner. What a great way to celebrate pigs – by eating them!
  • Beer Day (in Iceland). Why would we celebrate an Icelandic day? Because it’s about beer.
  • Finisher’s Medal Day. The idea was to run a bit today, to pay tribute to those who train hard for athletic triumph. I’m not sure my chest is up to that abuse though.
  • National Black Women In Jazz & The Arts Day. Listen to some Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington? Easy.
  • Namesake Day. A day to learn about the origins of our names.
  • Plan A Solo Vacation Day. We’ll ruminate about the ideal solo vacation. No flights will be booked. Probably.
  • Russian Butter Week. This wraps up today, and it’s one of the neatest celebrations we learned about too late to join in.

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