Let’s face it, February is kinda lame. There’s a quasi-romantic holiday that bums a lot of single people out, it’s cold and meh a lot of the time, and for most people, gardening season and leisurely cookouts are still months away. This year, February is 29 days long, not 28—but that’s still a few days shorter than the average month.
We’ve rounded up some reasons to celebrate in February (derived from the Latin word februum, which means “purification,” though our list is short of foods that purify, saldy). Some of these holidays are massive and global in scale (say hello to the Year of the Monkey), and some are ridiculous trifles to bring a smile to your face. In any case, roll up your sleeves and get your menus planned.
1 of 15
February 1: National Baked Alaska Day. It's cold out there, we get it. Thus, Baked Alaska Day. There's a myth that Thomas Jefferson served Bakes Alaska at the White House, but his term predated the purchase of the Alaska Territory for a good many decades, so it's more accurate to say that Jefferson served elaborate ice cream desserts at the White House. Charles Ranhofer, the French-born chef of Delmonico's in New York City, is often credited with popularizing Baked Alaska (known in France as omelette Norvegienne, or Norwegian omelet) in America. (#NationalBakedAlaskaDay)
vxla CC BY
2 of 15
February 2: Groundhog Day. Observe the American ritual of superstitious weather prediction via large rodent by making some adorable cupcakes. Or, if you are a hunter, why not cook up some groundhog yourself? They are edible. Who knows, you might like it groundhog meat even better than the groundhog cupcakes.
Mark Levisay CC BY
3 of 15
February 3: National Carrot Cake Day. Hard to resist, right? While by no means a new cake, the popularity of carrot cake is relatively recent; the spice-nut-fruit version we see most often now, with it thick whorls of cream cheese icing, asserted itself in the 1970s. For a slightly more refined version, try this gingery one from Martha Stewart. (#NationalCarrotCakeDay)
jeffreyw CC BY
4 of 15
February 4: National Homemade Soup Day. If you cook at home much, this one is easy to celebrate repeatedly. (#National HomemadeSoupDay)
bob CC BY
5 of 15
February 8: Lunar New Year begins. It's the Year of the Monkey. Lunar New Year is basically the biggest, longest party in the whole world, and a fine nudge to seek out events in any Chinese or Vietnamese neighborhoods nearby (if you're lucky enough to have any nearby). If not, check out our list of foods to celebrate with 6 Classic Good Luck Dishes for Chinese New Year.
Epic Fireworks CC BY
6 of 15
February 9: National Pizza Day. Definitely not challenging to get people on board with this one. Perhaps observe by learning about regional American pizza styles, like Detroit's. Or perfect your at-home pizza game with our list of can't-miss pizza cookbooks. (#NationalPizzaDay)
7 of 15
February 9: Mardi Gras. You know, that other largest party in the world. As far as we know, pizza is not a traditional Mardi Gras food, but if you're into forging your own traditions, you can piggyback this onto National Pizza Day. Or be all New Orleans about it and get yourself a King Cake before the arrival of Lent.
Phil Denton CC BY-SA
8 of 15
February 10: Ash Wednesday. …and so it begins. Good Catholics fast on this day, having only one meal and abstaining from eating meat for 40 days. This is great news for non-Catholics like me, too, because Lent marks the beginning of the weekly fish fries (fish frys?) various churches in the Midwest hold. For four weeks, my husband, daughter, and I gladly pay $8 per person to gorge on excellent fried pollock every Friday, which calls to mind what the point of fasting is if you're actually being more of a glutton that usual. But I digress.
David Reber CC BY-SA
9 of 15
February 11: National Peppermint Patty Day. The frosty-creamy chocolate treat, not the Peanuts character. Support your local confectioner, make your own, or just go to the drugstore and buy a York and "get the sensation". (#PeppermintPattyDay)
Stacy CC BY
10 of 15
February 14: Valentine's Day.
Observing with food is non-negotiable, whether you're all twitterpated or a bitter grouch.
Pen Waggener CC BY