Inspirational Women of February
Cailleach: The Prototypic February Female (9 prompts)
Cailleach, a Gaelic/Celtic divine crone associated with the Winter months has her last flurry of activity around Imbolc, Candlemas, or Groundhog Day which is the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. Folk belief states that if Cailleach is out and about, and can be seen gathering firewood for the remainder of Winter, then Winter will continue on for a long while. If the day is rainy, or dreary and damp, she cannot gather firewood and Winter will not last much longer.
The connections between the early February holidays seem obvious; I suggest we rename the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, Punxsutawney Philippa. Groundhog day is February 2nd. Imbolc is February 4th in 2016. Candlemas, celebrated on February 2nd is when Mary would have had purification rites, 40 days after Jesus’ birth. They are all interconnected.
Votes and Valentines (15 prompts)
Leap years, as defined by the presence of a 29th day in February take a bit of the splash of Valentines Day away as the neatest thing about February. But one of the coolest things about February is the anniversary of the Utah Territory giving women the vote on February 12, 1869. That is a great lead up to how on February 14th, perhaps we should celebrate the far seeing non-partisan, League of Women Voters that was founded founded February 14, 1920, six months before the 19th amendment was passed, rather than a martyred man.
Leap years are are always U.S. Presidential election years. The next Leap Year after this one will take lots and lots of extra planning and celebration as 2020 will be the 100th Anniversary of women gaining the right to vote with the passage 19th Amendment in 1920.
The following video, of which the first few minutes may be skipped, gets us familiar with some of the types of organizations who are involved in the 100th anniversary.
Nancy E. Tate, of the League of Women Voters, speaking in Page Herrington panel, Women’s History on the Horizon: The Centennial of Woman Suffrage in 2020.
So let us continue on in these women-centric Celtic and political discussions with the 29th Day of February as Leap Year Day, the day that marks a long-standing role reversal by a women being “allowed” to ask a man to marry.
The marriage proposal inversion of who may ask whom to marry on February 29th did not arise from Scottish law as is frequently stated and restated. The day thus has no proven Celtic connection. But leap years are always Years of the Monkey, Dragon or Rat in the Chinese Calendar. This year, a Year of the Red Monkey, begins February 8th.
Women do not need a special day, such as February 29th, to upend society norms and pursue their passions. A Leap Day baby exemplifies this perfectly.
Augusta Savage (4 prompts)
Augusta Savage was born Augusta Christine Fells on Leap Day, February 29, 1892. Her passion for sculpting emerged early in childhood. To say that her minister father did not encourage this pursuit is a complete understatement. But despite her father’s physical punishment for crafting graven images as a child in her small town Florida home, the family’s move to West Palm Beach, Florida allowed her to study and teach art after her father softened his stance. After her husband’s death shortly after the birth of their only child, and a move back in with her parents, she moved to New York to pursue her study of art. Keeping her second husband’s name, she was one of the influential artists in the Harlem Renascence and won many significant commissions. She also waged personal battles against racism to call attention to and eventually shatter barriers for those who followed. In 1934 Augusta Savage became the first black member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors.
More Women of February (at least 16 prompts)
Born February 1, 1910, Nordstrom started out at Harper & Brothers as a secretary beginning in 1931. She then became a children’s book editor, and then director of the Department of Books for Boys and Girls in 1940.
Nordstrom was the most significant editor of children’s literature in the 2oth Century. She edited many of the classic children’s books of the mid-20th Century such as Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Stuart White, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and Elsie Minarick’s “I Can Read Books.”
The “Grand Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy”, was born Alice Mary Norton on February 17, 1912 legally changing her name to Andre Norton in 1932, one of the male names under which she wrote as a juvenile and young adult writer in the 1930s and 40s, while she worked as a children’s librarian. as well as for science fiction and fantasy novels writer for the last half of the 20th Century and on into the 21st.
She authored “more than 130 novels, nearly 100 short stories and numerous anthologies that Ms. Norton edited in the science-fiction, fantasy, mystery and western genres…” NY Times March 18, 2005
She was awarded more prizes than can be easily documented, and was one of the original eight members of SAGA (Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America). Never one to quit growing and testing boundaries, she even ventured into the world of early (role playing) gaming by writing Grayhawk-based books at the invitation of one of the originators of Dungeons and Dragons.
There are many more February women who could be discussed, but they are among the women mentioned every year as important women in Women’s History Month as well as February birthday lists: Betty Friedan, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Walker, and Elizabeth Blackwell to name only a few.
One prompt you could certainly spin off of this month is for Tell Her Story that will run on this site next month.
50 Years Ago (5 prompts)
Petula Clark and Nancy Sinatra were hot topics.
The #1 songs were:
|February 05||My Love||Petula Clark|
|February 19||Lightnin’ Strikes||Lou Christie|
|February 26||These Boots Are Made For Walkin’||Nancy Sinatra|
Nancy Sinatra, Frank ‘s daughter, has a #1 hit in the US and UK with “These Boots Are Made For Walking.”
Valley of the Dolls, by Jacqueline Susann, was released by publisher Bernard Geis Associates. She figured out how to game the system and bought large numbers of her book at the stores used by The New York Times to determine its bestseller list. It quickly rose to number one best-selling novel.
The Directors Guild of America awards The Sound of Music Best Film.
These 49-plus prompts are just a few of the associations and ideas that you can use to generate writing topics this month.
WOW! Information overload in a good way! So much I didn’t know. Now I feel all educated! Great post….will have to re-read it. Realized how old I was when I read that it has been 50 years since I sang along with Nancy Sinatra. Yikes…time flies!
Yes, it is a bit of an overload, but there are enough prompts in there for a month of writing. And I could not believe the 50 years thing either!
Those are very inspirational women. This was a teaser, that makes me want to learn more. Thank you!
Oh thank you Angela, I am glad it piqued your interest!
These are women I knew nothing about until reading your post. we have come such a long way, even though it seems like not far enough.
There are so many wonderful women who actively built and changed our world. I love finding out about them. But as you suggest, we have a long, long way to go.
Jilly Jesson Smyth
This is a magnificent gathering Nancy!
I am so inspired and want more gold nuggets. These are amazing women and the reminders of the music of Nancy Sinatra and writing of Jacqueline Susann brings back another time of shift and change.
Just come back the first of every month for the latest installment! It really was another very different time, wasn’t it?