February is my second least favorite month. The happiness and excitement of Christmas and all the January birthdays in my family has finally worn off. Even for people like me who enjoy winter, by February, the cold and snow is wearing thin. In the U.S., there aren’t in major holidays to look forward to, but the ones we do have can provide settings for stories.
Groundhog’s Day: This must be the strangest holiday in America that everybody knows about. We all gather around around TV’s or computers to see how a groundhog behaves and how that behavior predicts the weather for the next six months. If you have any idea for a children’s book associated with this holiday, teachers and librarians would love it. Because February is such a boring month, they are looking for any books to build lessons or story times around. One of my favorites is Groundhog Gets His Say by Pamela Curtis Swallow.
Valentine’s Day: I am not a romance writer, so I wouldn’t use this holiday for romance. But a funny story would also work. Maybe a wife is frustrated in her attempts to plan a romantic evening out.
Ash Wednesday: This year it falls one Valentine’s Day. That makes it a good setting for reconciliation between loved ones, not just romantic ones. One character sees his or her faults clearly and tries to reconcile with someone he or she wronged.
Presidents’ Day: I am stumped on how to use this as a setting. For most Americans it just means sales and kids off from school. Ellery Queen did use it in the short story “The President’s Half Disme” in his collection Calendar of Crime. The detective is trying to find a treasure or artifact hidden by George Washington.
Leap Year: This is the one holiday in February with which a writer can have a lot of fun. Because it only comes around every four years, all kind of fantastic qualities can be attached to it. For example, Troy Cummings makes a Leap Year birthday the key to his main character’s ability to see monsters in his early chapter book series The Notebook of Doom.
As I said last year, February is also a good month for a story about a character who is frustrated with his or her life, the month paralleling that feeling. I could use one of the holidays in it to kick off or end the story.
What do you think of February? How would you use it for a story?