Mantoan Family Traditions – February

As someone who abhors winter, February is always the longest month of the year. When everyone was little and homeschooled, February was the month when we all wanted to give up. It always seems more fitting to me when Ash Wednesday falls early in February so that Lent and the dreariness of the month occur simultaneously. Now that we live in a well insulated house, and the kids are older, and we watch more movies and shows together in the evenings, it’s not as rough. It used to be if we got a sunny day over 45 degrees in February, I’d take us all to the beach. That’s not an option now, but it was a huge morale boost back in the day, even when it was physically hard to do.

February 24, 2017

Many of our traditions fall at the beginning of the month, while the rest of the month is usually prayer, fasting, penance, and Sunday sweets.

February 2 – Feast of the Purification/ Candlemas, Groundhog Day

This marks the end of the Christmas season in our house. We put away the nativity set and any remaining decorations. We attend the Candlemas service and hopefully remember to take candles to get blessed. Tony likes to make crêpe suzette based on an idea he got from Fish Eaters years ago. Sometimes, if he’s working late, this tradition has to wait until the closest Saturday. We pay attention to whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow, because, fun fact!, I visited Puxatawny when I was younger to visit a great aunt that lived there. I even saw where Puxatwany Phil lives! So I feel some affection towards that particular groundhog…when he predicts an early spring.

February 3 – St. Blaise

At our parish, our pastor will do the blessing of throats on the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Blaise for those who can’t make Mass on the actual day.

Super Bowl Sunday

Even when we didn’t have a TV, we still got network cable as part of our internet package and so, on very special occasions like the Super Bowl, we would hook up an old monitor to the cable and watch the big game. I would always make “fun” foods like pizza bites, corn dogs, chips, etc. Even though we didn’t follow football too closely for many years, we always enjoyed our family Super Bowl party.

Once we moved, we hooked up a projector in the living room. We started watching more movies, shows, and once again, football. Since we had a larger screen, we could invite people over to watch the game with us, and we started doing so. My menus got more elaborate and I purchased decorations, and ultimately an inflatable snack stadium. Teddy became a Chiefs fan after their Super Bowl win in 2019 and he’s been a die hard football fan ever since. His head holds an incredible amount of football knowledge for a 13 year old.

2024 – This year Taylor Swift stopped by our Super Bowl party! Teddy was THRILLED!!!

Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday 2012

Fat Tuesday is a big deal in our house. Since probably Edie was a toddler, we have always given up sweets as a family during Lent. So Fat Tuesday is the last day to eat sweets (until Sunday). I usually make a special treat, like fastnachts, and dinner is typically something fun like pancakes, pizza or corn dogs. I also allow snacking on sweets all day; any candy or treats in the house are fair game. Gummy bears at breakfast? Go for it! Cake for lunch? Sounds good! The goal is to get rid of it all, or I toss it in the freezer for Sunday. I’ve also encouraged (they may say forced) my children to listen to zydeco music and engage in other fun Mardi Gras type crafts and activities (note Fulton’s expression in the photo above). But the highlight by far is eating all the sweets (that’s why all the other kids are smiling, they’ve been eating candy all day).

February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day

Honestly, we’ve never done much for St. Valentine’s Day. In the past, both sets of grandparents would give treats, but Tony and I never got the kids anything and he and I never do anything romantic. We probably did some crafts and read saint stories when the kids were little, but I can’t recall anything memorable. I only mention it to show that, it’s okay to not make a big deal out of every holiday.

Ash Wednesday and Lent

On Ash Wednesday, we get ashes, usually at an evening Mass, and I make a plain dinner everyone will complain about; this year it was rice and beans. Sometimes, I’ve had the kids write out what they’re giving up for Mass and we’ve done a variety of devotionals and activities. We consistently say the Stations of the Cross on Friday during family prayer time, either at our parish or at home in front of the crucifix featured in this post. Other favorite resources include:

Usually, the rest of February is just Lent. We don’t have any other holy days, birthdays, or special events. It’s just cold and Lent-y. What are you plans for this month? Mine are looking forward to spring!

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