On the to-do list this week: February doesn’t have to suck. Yes, it’s cold, but hear us out: We have a walking tour to celebrate Black History Month, a hot chocolate recipe that will make you love Valentine’s Day, a way to get a greeting from Groundhog Day megasuperstar Punxsutawney Phil, and more to keep you going through this (short) month.

And remember: We’ve collected our best Philly tips all in one place here.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and, as much as possible, it’s still a good idea to stay home.


Know this

» Ask us a question through Curious Philly: inquirer.com/askus

Do this

Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:

  • 📜 Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion’s Deep Rivers (Black History Month / virtual / kid-friendly) Learn about the lives and achievements of notable 19th-century Black citizens at a guided online tour. Experts from Germantown’s Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion present soundscapes, images and stories about Black artists, entrepreneurs and intellectuals who deserve recognition. ($5, free for those in the 19144 zip code, Jan. 31, 1:30-3 p.m., ebenezermaxwellmansion.org, add to calendar)

🔎 Find more of this week’s safe events, and we even have a kid-friendly events calendar, too.

February rules. Here’s why. 1. Because it’s a breath away from spring

This week is Groundhog Day. And while we pour our hopes for hot sunny days into one prognosticating rodent, rest assured: Even if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, spring is, truly, around the corner. And if you do hang on the word of that chunky furry mammal, remember, last year, Phil went easy on us, and saw the sun.

A few more ways to get into the good groundhog spirit:

  • Rewatch the classic flick. Since Punxsutawney’s fun annual fest is going to be a lot more muted, relive the pomp by watching Harold Ramis’s Pennsylvania-set 1993 movie. Frank Connors (peak Bill Murray) relives the same day over and over again, which may be a little too real after the 2020 we all lived, but it holds up surprisingly well, anyway. The movie is not on Netflix, but is available to watch on AMC or to rent or buy through Amazon Prime.

  • Get a personalized message from Punxsutawney Phil. Yes, through the celeb-message-marketplace Cameo, you can get a customized message from the rodent himself (for a fee), as Stephanie Farr recently discovered. (And Philly’s other favorite scruffy mascot, Gritty, is also available for personalized greetings, though he’s charging a steep $500 for the privilege.) If you want more Phil in your life, but want to keep it cheap, he’s also on Twitter: @GroundhogClub

2. Because Valentine’s Day is an excuse to eat chocolate

Not that you need an excuse. Whether you enjoy the holiday or not, it’s a nice time to luxuriate in some chocolate-y self care. Try this recipe for hot chocolate mix from Shane Confectionery head chocolate maker Kevin Paschall:


  • 7 oz. dark chocolate (60-70% cacao)

  • 9 oz. (1 cup) cane sugar

  • 6 oz. (1.5 cups) natural cocoa powder


  • Place the chocolate in the freezer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine sugar and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl.

  • Remove the chocolate from freezer, and place in a food processor. Pulse on high speed until chocolate is reduced to a coarse powder. Add to the mixing bowl, and stir all ingredients until well combined. Store mix in an airtight jar for up to six months.

To make a cup, place 8 oz of the milk of your choice in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add 3 Tbsp. of the drinking chocolate mix, and mix well with a whisk. Serve hot, topped with marshmallows or whipped cream. Optional additions: 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, pinch of orange zest, 1 oz. of bourbon or brandy, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, a few drops of peppermint oil, or 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

Find more winter DIY projects here.

» READ MORE: DIY projects to survive winter: Make your own bath bombs, lip balm, and decadent drinking chocolate

3. Because it’s Black History Month

The events of the past year have made it more important than ever to recognize Black history and celebrate Black culture. Here’s one place to start, and it’s a COVID-safe outside experience: Talk a stroll through some of the sites in Philly that were significant in the fight against slavery. You can learn this history on your feet, and we have an audio version of the tour to keep you company as you walk.

Here’s one stop on the tour:

  • Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 419 S. Sixth St.: Bishop Richard Allen was born into slavery, and bought his freedom. Allen went on to found Mother Bethel in 1794; it’s on the oldest parcel of U.S. land continuously owned by Black Americans and the oldest AME church in the nation. The church became a site on the Underground Railroad, its basement serving as a hiding place for fugitives. Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass, and William Still all spoke here. (Another black church whose members were active in the Underground Railroad was African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, which originally stood at Fifth Street near St. James. There is a marker at that site.)

» READ MORE: In Harriet’s shoes: Two walking tours of Philly’s antislavery history

4. Because it’s short

If you’re still not convinced: At least February is short (and 2021 is not a leap year). The days are getting longer, but while we wait for warmer days. Use it to tackle one of these self-care projects:

Bookmark it

We’ve been answering questions about COVID-19 for many months now, questions like When do I replace my face mask?, Can I get the flu and the coronavirus at the same time? and How can I wear a mask and not fog up my glasses?

We break down all the answers to your questions. And we’ve collected all of our stories at inquirer.com/covid-tips