February is blessed with an extra day in 2024: It’s a leap year, a quadrennial event that means the final day of February is the 29th, an extra 24 hours on the calendar and a chance for leap day babies to celebrate their true day of birth.
What do people do on leap day? There’s the Irish tradition of women proposing marriage to men, according to Salon.com. But Greek tradition has it that it’s unlucky to get married during a leap year – especially leap day — because those unions are said to end in divorce.
In Scotland, it’s believed that those who are born on Feb. 29 will live a life of “untold suffering.”
But the National Day Calendar tells us that there are plenty of opportunities to do something special in February beyond leap day, including Valentine’s Day. On the silly side, you can celebrate National Pistachio Day on Feb. 26 or Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on Feb. 3.
The third day of the month is a busy one on the calendar of national observances: It includes The Day the Music Died Day, to mark the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly and two other musical icons of the era; the sobering National Missing Persons Day; and Four Chaplains Day, which honors four World War II military chaplains who died saving their fellow soldiers.
But there are two days this month that involve actually doing for others. National Random Acts of Kindness Day on Feb. 17 is celebrated by both people and organizations nationwide. And National Letter to an Elder Day on Feb. 26 encourages writing to a senior citizen who could use an emotional lift.
The latter may seem like a quaint tradition, given that so many of us have substituted email and texts for written letters. Many members of the millennial and Gen Z population have never learned cursive writing or even how to mail an envelope.
National Letter to an Elder Day – according to its founders, Lover For Our Elders – began in 2000, when a youth who lost his grandfather decided to volunteer at a local senior facility and found himself calling Bingo games.
“Bingo boy,” as the residents dubbed him, noticed that some of the residents got neither visits nor messages from family. So he created a nonprofit that facilitated letters to seniors worldwide, according to the Love For Our Elders site, and has drawn more than 50,000 volunteer writers. You can learn more at loveforourelders.org.
Random acts of kindness aren’t limited to any one day, says the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation; its spirit applies every day. Suggestions on how to show others you care, according to the National Day Calendar, include paying for the coffee or meal of the person in front of you in line; complimenting strangers; or sending flowers to a hospital or nursing home and requesting they be delivered to a patient who could use a boost.
Learn more at nationaltoday.com. That site also lists the days of every month and the observances that come with them.