A Made-in-Revelstoke public holiday


John Devitt
John Devitt

When jetting away for some sun and fun in Mexico or Cuba is not an option, the best thing to do to cure the mid-winter, February blues is to throw a winter festival.  There are thousands of odd festivals and strange holidays around the world during February, but like many of our celebrations, they generally stem first from astronomical cycles and then later from religious traditions.Most winter festivals are celebrated just before the beginning of Lent.  Lent, a traditional Christian fasting period lasts for approximately six weeks before Easter.  It is a period when many people give up something to show their religious devotion.  Festivals such as Carnaval and Mardi Gras were generally created to kick off Lent with a hangover, so one did not feel as much withdrawal for all the vices they were giving up over the following forty days.  While it is arguable whether these religious traditions carry as much import in the early 21st century as they once did, what has remained constant is the seasonal ‘interlude’ marked by community festivals.

Some of those finer February festivals are known for their wackiness.  The Annual Shovel Racing Championships in New Mexico is a chance for folks to try to break the shovel descent speed record of 112 kilometres per hour (http://travel.ca.msn.com/specials/winter-getaway-guide/worlds-top-10-winter-festivals?page=7).  If speed isn’t your preference, but gratuitous nudity is, you could always check out the Naked Man Festival in Japan.  Also held during the month of February, about 9000 men dressed only in a loincloth and drunk on sake wrestle for the chance to win a year of complete happiness (http://travel.ninemsn.com/holidaytype/weird/721268/japans-naked-man-festival).  If you crave a different sort of wildlife encouter, you could run with stampeding reindeer in Anchorage, Alaska (http://www.anchorage.net/news/four-weird-wild-ways-celebrate-winter-0).  Although similar to the famous Running of the Bulls in Pampola, Spain, this event is a bit less dangerous.  You are encouraged to pet the reindeer beforehand.  While organizers maintain this is to provide a close interaction with the animal unafforded in daily life, it is more certainly an opportunity for the reindeer to get your scent, allowing an easier pursuit and inevitable trampling.

Odd festivals aren’t the only things developed by our daylight parched brains at this time of year.  February has a massive share of the most bizarre holidays created.  Groundhog Day aside, which is absolutely ludricrous, there are at least a half dozen ‘unique’ days that you can attempt to celebrate with a straight face this month.  Thankfully many of are self descriptive;

  • February 4th ‘Thank a Mail[person] Day’,
  • February 7th ‘Wave All your Fingers at Your Neighbour Day’,
  • February 11th ‘Clean out Your Computer Day’,
  • February 13th ‘Get a Different Name Day’,
  • February 15th ‘Singles Awareness Day’,
  • February 16th ‘Do a Grouch a Favour Day’,
  • February 17th ‘Random Acts of Kindness Day’,
  • February 20th ‘Cherry Pie Day’ (a personal favourite),
  • February 23rd ‘International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day’ also ‘International World Thinking Day’,
  • February 24th ‘National Tortilla Chip Day (US)’
  • And for many, the most ridiculous holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day, February 14th  (http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/february.htm).

So how does one create a ‘day’?  National holidays take a lot of time and resources to lobby the federal government, and provincial holidays are in the same boat.  Look how late to the party British Columbia is with the inaugural “BC Family Day” holiday on February 11th this year!  Local municipal holidays on the other hand, should simply take an act from City Council.  While the latter half of that sentence may seem at first like an oxymoron, and infamously this council has stated community petitions carry no weight or merit in their chambers, a letter writing campaign on the other hand is something they have no choice but to address.

For a town so proud of its ski heritage and epic snow conditions, it is a travesty there is no municipal bylaw requiring a complete shut down of all businesses on a snow day with accumulation of greater than say twenty centimetres.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an official ‘Stoke Day’ when everyone can enjoy opening, or alternatively, closing day at Revelstoke Mountain Resort?  For the non-skier, of which as we know there are many in Revelstoke, the day off can be enjoyed in a multitude of other ways.

While implementation may have its challenges, it cannot be denied that a day to celebrate all we have in Revelstoke is an excellent idea and needs to be embraced by Council.  Who will join the cause?!

Enjoy Spirit Festival everyone!