The Month of February
Why Is It Called February?
February is named after the Latin word februum, or maybe even the more ancient februa, which was a spring festival of washing and purification.
- Middle English - Februarius
- Latin - Februarius mensis - Month of February
- Latin - dies februatus - Day of Purification
- Old English - Solmonath - mud month
How Old Is the Month of February?
The month of February did not originally exist in the ancient Roman calendar. The winter season was a period without months, and the calendar consisted of only ten months. February was added, along with January, to the end of the Roman calendar year around 700 BCE, so that the calendar would reflect a standard lunar year of 355 days. February became the second month of the year around 450 BCE, although it was initially the last month of the year.
Why Is February So Short?
The Roman calendar was designed to reflect the length of the lunar months. A calendar year lasted 355 days, which is the approximate duration of 12 lunar months. A straightforward method of dividing this time span into 12 calendar months would have been to have some months with 29 days and some with 30 days. However, since even numbers were considered unlucky in ancient Rome, we ended up with a calendar that has seven months with 29 days and four months with 31 days instead. This left February, the last month of the year, with the remaining 28 days.
With its even number of days, the Romans considered February an unlucky month, and it was reserved for rituals honoring the dead.
Leap Year Rules
The Julian calendar's formula to calculate leap years produced a leap year every four years. However, every fourth year was way too often. After a while, the Julian calendar and important religious holidays, like Easter, were several days out of sync with the fixed dates for astronomical events like equinoxes and solstices. Eventually, this distortion led to Pope Gregorious developing a new calendar, which most countries still use today.
Snow Moon and Black Moon
Snow Moon is the given name or nickname for the Full Moon in February. It was named after the snowy conditions in the Northern Hemisphere. Traditional Full Moon Names come from different cultures. Some North American tribes called the Full Moon in February the Hunger Moon due to the scarce food sources during mid-winter. Other names include Storm Moon and Chaste Moon, although the last one is more common for the March Full Moon.
Birth Flower and Stone
February's birth flowers are the violet (viola) and the common primrose (primula vulgaris). The February birthstone is the amethyst, which symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity.
February starts on the same day of the week as March and November in common years. During leap years, it starts on the same day of the week as August. Once every six years and twice every 11 years, the month of February will have only four full seven-day weeks, where the first day of the month begins on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday.