February Overview – February joined the calendar with January around 700 B.C. It derives its name from the Latin februo, which means “purification rites.”
During the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia, thongs made from goatskin were used in purification rituals, which took place during the month, earning it the name februarius.
When February was first added to the calendar along with January in 700 BC by Numa Pompilius, it became the last month of the year.
Pompilius tacked on these two months to line up with the lunar cycle. However, Romans believed odd numbers to be lucky. Since February ended up being the unlucky one, they placed it at the end and shortened it so the bad luck wouldn’t last long. February remained there for nearly 200 hundred years. Then, both January and February moved to the beginning of the year.
Julius Caesar attempted to align the calendar with the solar season creating the Julian calendar. February, already a short month, gained a few days bringing it to 28. Then every four years, a leap day was added.
Under the current Gregorian calendar, the leap year functions differently. Leap years are divisible by four, with one exception. Centennial years must be divisible by 400.
February is unique in other ways, too. Because it usually has 28 days, once every 6 years, it’s the only month to have 4 full 7 day weeks. In the years that aren’t leap years (otherwise known as common years), February and March start on the same day of the week.
February Culture Overview
The month has some fun events. Everyone loves to talk about Ground Hog Day, Valentine’s Day, and the Super Bowl in February. However, the big news in February is that pitchers and catchers report kicking off spring training for a new baseball season. What’s a truer sign of spring?
Black History Month takes place during February because Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were both born during the month.
One of the earliest flowers to bloom in spring is the primrose. It is also the flower of February.
If you are born in February, you are either an Aquarius or a Pisces. Your birthstone is the pretty purple quartz called amethyst.
Throughout February, we enjoy chowing down on homemade soups, grilled cheese sandwiches, chili, stuffed peppers, and cherry pie. This is especially true in the Northern Hemisphere, where the winters get a little more than brisk. In the Southern Hemisphere, summer is peaking.