February is a winter month rich in events and traditions, even if not everyone is aware of them. Let’s begin with obvious things: in February Carnival is usually celebrated! This year, 13 February will be the first Carnival Sunday. So let’s wet our taste buds with the treats typical of this period! In Italy, chiacchiere are usually cooked: they are a sort of phyllo fried dough. The next day, 14 February, will be Valentine’s Day, more about this very soon!


On 2 February there are two traditions: Candelora and Groundhog Day (which is a very important tradition in America, but has recently taken hold in Italy too). Let’s see together what they are. Candelora Day is the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and it is considered a very important day for predicting the weather of the following weeks: an ancient Italian saying recites “Per la santa Candelora se nevica o se plora dell’inverno siamo fora” (literally: if it snows or rains on Candelora day we are out of winter); if on this day the weather is bad, it means that winter is over and spring is about to begin. A similar situation happens in America, on Groundhog Day; on February 2, a groundhog den is observed in Punxsutawney, in Pennsylvania; it is an event that attracts many people from all around the USA! To find out the following weeks’ fate, it’s better if it is a cloudy day as the groundhog has to stay outside its nest, in that case winter can be considered over. Otherwise, if the weather is sunny, it’s easier for the groundhog to get scared of its shadow and to go back to its nest, in this case, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. 


Finally, during this month, on 1437, so 585 years ago, the Battle of Barga was fought: the Dukedom of Milan, led by captain Niccolò Piccinino, invaded and besieged Barga, but the Republic of Florence, led by Francesco Sforza, came to our aid, defeating Piccinino. On this occasion, Porta Macchiaia was ruined. 

— Written and translated by Margherita Paolinelli

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