You may have mixed feelings about “official” holidays like Valentine’s Day, but who could possibly object to something like World Hippo Day? February abounds with alternative holidays to celebrate, none of which revolve around your relationship status or affinity for greeting cards. Here are 10 of them.
February 2: World Wetlands Day
They may not be as alluring as frozen tundras or rainforests, but wetlands remain one of our most important ecosystems. If you're lucky enough to live near a swamp or saltmarsh, celebrate World Wetlands Day by slipping on your galoshes and (carefully!) traversing one of these flooded wonders; if not, the magic of the internet can help you learn everything there is to know about wetlands — including the unfortunate fact that they’re disappearing at an alarming rate. Luckily, hope springs eternal and there are lots of ways to get involved and help reverse this trend.
February 4: Thank a Mail Carrier Day
Now more than ever, the people who deliver our mail are everyday heroes. Whether it’s medicine, letters from loved ones, or just that package you’ve been obsessively tracking, the simple joy — and importance — of receiving the mail hasn’t felt like such a big deal in a long time. Take today to thank your friendly neighborhood mail carrier in whatever way seems best to you, like with a simple thank-you note or a treat left near your mailbox. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” as the motto goes, so don't let anything stop you from expressing your gratitude.
February 8: National Kite-Flying Day
“Go fly a kite” might not be the nicest thing to say to someone, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good advice. And while the activity is so weather-dependent that tying it to a specific day in February can be a bit risky, National Kite-Flying Day is still all the excuse you need to reconnect with a hobby that dates back to China circa 470 B.C. and has evolved considerably while retaining its nostalgic whimsy. If you get rained out, don't worry — you can always have a good cry while re-reading The Kite Runner and save the actual kite flying for a sunnier day.
February 11: Global Movie Day
Movies should be celebrated every day, but Global Movie Day works well enough if you can spare only one day a year for the seventh art. Taking place on the second Saturday of February — which, in a normal year, would be in the thick of awards season, with the Academy Awards just around the corner — it's the perfect opportunity to finally watch an all-timer like Citizen Kane, a highly acclaimed drama from last year, or both.
February 14: International Book-Giving Day
If you’re more of a reader, February 14 is International Book-Giving Day. There’s no time like the present to start a little free library in your neighborhood, donate to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, or simply share your favorite book with a loved one — who doesn’t enjoy the validation of a friend or family member admitting what great taste you have?
February 15: World Hippo Day
There are exactly two land mammals on the planet that are larger than the noble hippopotamus, and neither of them is quite as adorable. (Sorry, rhinos and elephants — we still love you.) And while you’d have to visit Africa to see one in the wild, hippos have made their presence felt across the world through a combination of outward cuteness and unexpected ferocity. (Not-so-fun fact: They're also the world’s deadliest large land mammal). They’re considered vulnerable, so when you’re done scrolling through pictures, consider donating to a group like the African Wildlife Foundation.
February 17: Caregivers Day
On the subject of “more important than ever,” caregivers of all stripes have been even more heroic than usual throughout the pandemic. They deserve more than a day, but it’s a good place to start. Founded six years ago by the Providers Association for Home Health & Hospice Agencies (PAHHHA), National Caregivers Day is observed on the third Friday of February and provides an opportunity to thank the nurses, hospice workers, and other healthcare professionals on the frontline for everything they do.
February 18: Pluto Day
You’ll always be a planet in our heart, Pluto. Most scientific developments are cause for celebration, but Pluto’s relegation to “dwarf planet” status in 2006 still stings those of us who had a soft spot for the little guy. The 91st anniversary of its discovery is as good a time as any to stargaze, learn more about astronomy, or write a strongly worded letter to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) demanding that Pluto be restored to its former glory rather than forced to hang out with Ceres, Eris, Makemake, Haumea, and all the other dwarf planets.
February 24: Tortilla Chip Day
On the off chance that you need an excuse to eat more tortilla chips, here it is. Filling up on chips at restaurants is a tradition we all long to return to once eateries are fully opened again, but for now, many of us have to do it at home. No matter: Whether you pair them with salsa, guacamole, bean dip, sour cream, or all of the above (and then some, if you’re making a seven-layer dip), there’s really no wrong way to mark Tortilla Chip Day — and, since it’s a holiday, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you finish the whole bag.
February 27: Retro Day
Want to feel old? The '90s count as retro now. To make yourself feel better, celebrate National Retro Day with the throwback outfit, music, or gadget of your choice. Listening to Nirvana on a walkman? That’s retro. Getting a disco ball and holding an impromptu dance party for one in your living room? Even more retro. Just try to keep it in the 20th century so we don’t all feel too old.