Okay, first off, before you read any further…what is the first thing the month of FEBRUARY brings to mind? Your first thought, feeling or image?
Do you got it?
If you wouldn’t mind, type it in down in the comment section before peeking at the rest of the post, because I’d really like know :)
While rattling my brain for a blog topic my thoughts kept circling round to what month this is, ticking off points of possible interest and mostly coming back to my personal impression of the second month on our calender, which usually includes an eye-roll and the word *strange*. February has never made much sense to me, with it’s anti-phonetic spelling, disappearing dates, flying cherubs and schizty ground hogs…to me, February is the strangest month of the year, like Mad Hatter Month or something. And for some reason, I’m always surprised by how COLD it is in February–it’s like my mind thinks all the hearts and flowers associated with this month should heat the atmosphere.
So yeah, February has never made a ton of sense to me. To try and makes sense of these oddities, I did some fact finding for our fair month of February.
February was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 in the old Roman calendar. January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. They were added by Numa Pompilius about 713 BC. February remained the last month of the calendar year until the time of the decemvirs (c. 450 BC), when it became the second month. At certain intervals February was truncated to 23 or 24 days; and a 27-day intercalary month, Intercalaris, was inserted immediately after February to realign the year with the seasons.
Under the reforms that instituted the Julian calendar, Intercalaris was abolished, leap years occurred regularly every fourth year (after a few years of confusion), and in leap years February gained a 29th day. Thereafter, it remained the second month of the calendar year, meaning the order that months are displayed (January, February, March, …, December) within a year-at-a-glance calendar. Even during the Middle Ages, when the numbered Anno Domini year began on March 25 or December 25, the second month was February whenever all twelve months were displayed in order. The Gregorian calendar reforms made slight changes to the system for determining which years were leap years and thus contained a 29-day February.
Historical names for February include the Anglo-Saxon terms Solmonath (mud month) and Kale-monath (named for cabbage) as well as Charlemagne’s designation Hornung. In Finnish, the month is called helmikuu, meaning “month of the pearl”; when snow melts on tree branches, it forms droplets, and as these freeze again, they are like pearls of ice.
Most pronounce February “Febyouary” or “Feberwary”. This comes about by a dissimilation effect whereby having two “r”s close to each other causes one to change for ease of pronunciation. As a kid I was sure some evil teacher had come up with the *hidden letter* spelling just to torture us spelling-challenged students ;-)
Major events for the month include Ground Hog Day, Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day–Washington and Lincoln both being born in February. Did y’all know Ground Hog day goes back a thousand years? Some ancient traditions marked the change of season at cross-quarter days such as Imbolc when daylight first makes significant progress against the night. Other traditions held that Spring did not begin until the length of daylight overtook night at the Vernal Equinox. So an arbiter, the groundhog/hedgehog, was incorporated as a yearly custom to settle the two traditions. Sometimes Spring begins at Imbolc, and sometimes Winter lasts 6 more weeks until the equinox. Here in the US The holiday it began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Click HERE to see a video of this year’s prediction by Phil, our most famous ground hog in Punxsutwney, PA. Sort of confirms my thoughts that February is the strangest month of the year ;-)
Here’s a list of holidays/events for February:
- Parent Leadership Month
- Aboliltion of Slavery in Mauritius:February 1
- St Brigid’s Day: February 1, Ireland
- Groundhog Day: February 2, United States and Canada
- Imbolc: February 2
- Chinese new Year: February 3rd
- Independence of Sri Lanka: February 4
- 1917 Constitution of Mexico: February 5
- Waitangi Day in New Zealand: February 6
- Vignesh kanna’s birth day in India:February 7
- Slovenian Cultural Holiday: February 8
- National Foundation Day in Japan: February 11
- Abraham Lincoln’s birthday: February 12, United States
- Lucia dos Santos died on February 13, 2005, at 97 years old
- Valentine’s Day: February 14
- Flag Day of Canada: February 15
- Presidents Day (United States, third Monday)
- International Mother Language Day: February 21
- Independence Day in Saint Lucia: February 22
- George Washington’s birthday: February 22, United States (often coincides with President’s Day, see above)
- Flag Day of Mexico: February 24
- People Power Revolution (Philippines) February 25
- Stacey’s Wedding Anniversary :) February 26
- Dominican Republic Independence: February 27
- Leap Day: February 29 (Every four years, with some exceptions)
- Black History Month (Canada and United States)
- National Day of the Sun (in Argentina)
- National Wear Red Day (in the US and the UK)
- National Bird-Feeding Month
Oh, and let’s not forget Super Bowl Sunday! My inlaws are from Wisconsin so we’ll have a house full of cheese heads :-D
Hope I was able to add to your associations with this crazy month ;-) Whatever you are celebrating this month, I hope you have a healthy and happy February!