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February is the second month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. It is the shortest month of the year as it is the only month to have a length of less than 30 days. The month has 28 days in common years or 29 days in leap years, with the quadrennial 29th day being called the "leap day."

February is the third month of meteorological winter in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, February is the last month of summer (the seasonal equivalent of August in the Northern Hemisphere, in meteorological reckoning).

Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

February may be pronounced either as (/ˈfɛbjuːˌɛri/ FEB-ew-err-ee or /ˈfɛbrˌɛri/ FEB-roo-err-ee). Many people pronounce it as (/juː/ ew rather than /r/ roo), as if it were spelled "Feb-u-ary". This comes about by analogy with "January" (which ends in "-uary" but not "-ruary"), as well as by a dissimilation effect whereby having two "r"s close to each other causes one to change for ease of pronunciation.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

February, Leandro Bassano
Chocolates for St. Valentine's Day

The Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar 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.

February observances in Ancient Rome include Amburbium (precise date unknown, Sementivae (February 2), Februa (February 13–15), Lupercalia (February 13–15), Parentalia (February 13–22), Quirinalia (February 17), Feralia (February 21), Caristia (February 22), Terminalia (February 23), Regifugium (February 24), and Agonium Martiale (February 27). These days do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.

Under the reforms that instituted the Julian calendar, Intercalaris was abolished, leap years occurred regularly every fourth year, 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 Old English 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. In Polish and Ukrainian, respectively, the month is called luty or лютий, meaning the month of ice or hard frost. In Macedonian the month is sechko (сечко), meaning month of cutting [wood]. In Czech, it is called únor, meaning month of submerging [of river ice].

In Slovene, February is traditionally called svečan, related to icicles or Candlemas.[2] This name originates from sičan,[3] written as svičan in the New Carniolan Almanac from 1775 and changed to its final form by Franc Metelko in his New Almanac from 1824. The name was also spelled sečan, meaning "the month of cutting down of trees".[2]

In 1848, a proposal was put forward in Kmetijske in rokodelske novice by the Slovene Society of Ljubljana to call this month talnik (related to ice melting), but it did not stick. The idea was proposed by a priest, Blaž Potočnik.[4] Another name of February in Slovene was vesnar, after the mythological character Vesna.[5]

Patterns[edit | edit source]

Having only 28 days in common years, February is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. Using Coordinated Universal Time as the basis for determining the date and time of a full moon, this last happened in 1999 and will next happen in 2018.[6][7] The same is true regarding a new moon: again using Coordinated Universal Time as the basis, this last happened in 2014 and will next happen in 2033.[8][9]

February is also the only month of the calendar that, once every six years and twice every 11 years consecutively, either back into the past or forward into the future, has four full 7-day weeks. In countries that start their week on a Monday, it occurs as part of a common year starting on Friday, in which February 1st is a Monday and the 28th is a Sunday; this occurred in 1965, 1971, 1982, 1993, 1999 and 2010, and occur will again in 2021. In countries that start their week on a Sunday, it occurs in a common year starting on Thursday, with the next occurrence in 2026, and previous occurrences in 1987, 1998, 2009 and 2015. The pattern is broken by a skipped leap year, but no leap year has been skipped since 1900 and no others will be skipped until 2100.

Astronomy[edit | edit source]

February meteor showers include the Alpha Centaurids (appearing in early February), the Beta Leonids, also known as the March Virginids (lasting from February 14 to April 25, peaking around March 20), the Delta Cancrids (appearing December 14 to February 14, peaking on January 17, the Omicron Centaurids (late January through February, peaking in mid-February), Theta Centaurids (January 23 – March 12, only visible in the southern hemisphere), Eta Virginids (February 24 and March 27, peaking around March 18), and Pi Virginids (February 13 and April 8, peaking between March 3 and March 9).

Astrology[edit | edit source]

The western zodiac signs of February are Aquarius (until February 19) and Pisces (February 20 onwards).[10]

February symbols[edit | edit source]

The violet
  • Its birth flower is the violet (Viola) and the common primrose (Primula vulgaris).[11]
  • Its birthstone is the amethyst. It symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity.[12]

Observances[edit | edit source]

This list does not necessarily imply either official status nor general observance.

Month-long observances[edit | edit source]

Non-Gregorian observances, 2018[edit | edit source]

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.Please note that all Baha'i, Islamic, and Jewish observances begin on sundown prior to the date listed, and end on the sundown of the date in question unless otherwise noted.

Movable observances, 2018 dates[edit | edit source]

First Friday: February 2

First Saturday: February 3

First Sunday: February 4

Second Sunday before Ash Wednesday (Western Christianity): February 4

9th Sunday before Pascha (Eastern Christianity): February 4[22]

Monday to Sunday following the 9th Sunday before Pascha (Eastern Christianity): February 4–10

Saturday of Meatfare Week (Eastern Christianity): February 10

Sunday of Meatfare week (Eastern Christianity): February 11

First Week of February (first Monday, ending on Sunday): February 5–11

First Monday: February 5

Second Day of the second week: February 6

Last Thursday before Lent (Western Christianity): February 8

Saturday before Ash Wednesday (Western Christianity): February 10

Second Saturday: February 10

Second Sunday: February 11

Sunday before Ash Wednesday (Western Christianity): February 11

Monday to Sunday following Meatfare week (Eastern Christianity): February 12–18

Monday before Ash Wednesday (Western Christianity): February 12

Second Monday: February 12

Second Tuesday: February 13

Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (Western Christianity): February 13

46 days before Easter (Western Christianity): February 14

Third Thursday: February 15

Friday after Ash Wednesday (Western Christianity): February 15

Thursday of the 8th week before Pascha (Eastern Christianity): February 15

Third Friday: February 16

First Sunday of Lent in (Western Christianity): February 18

Sunday of Cheesefare week (Eastern Christianity): February 18

Week of February 22: February 18–24

Monday after Sunday of Forgiveness (Eastern Christianity): February 19

Third Monday: February 19

Last Friday: February 23

First Saturday of Great Lent (Eastern Christianity): February 24

Last Saturday: February 24

First Sunday of Great Lent (Eastern Christianity): February 25

Last Tuesday: February 27

Last day of February: February 28

Fixed observances[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "February | Definition of February by Merriam-Webster". Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 (in Slovenian) (PDF) Koledar prireditev v letu 2007 in druge informacije občine Dobrova–Polhov Gradec. Municipality of Dobrova-Polhov Gradec. 2006. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. https://web.archive.org/web/20131102060918/http://www.dobrova-polhovgradec.si/doc/priponke/koledar%20prir%2007%20zadnji.pdf. 
  3. Vasmer, Max, ed. (1972). Zeitschrift für slavische Philologie. 36–37. Markert&Petters. p. 115. https://books.google.si/books?id=0V9gAAAAMAAJ. 
  4. "Slovenska imena mesecev". Kmetijske in rokodelske novice 6 (37). 13 September 1848. http://www.dlib.si/details/URN:NBN:SI:doc-ACZAUJWT/?&language=eng. 
  5. Bogataj, Janez (2005). "Slovenska mitologija – Vesna" (in Slovenian, English, German). Bilten; poštne znamke [Bulletin: Postage Stamps] (56). ISSN 1318-6280. http://www.posta.si/downloadfile.aspx?fileid=14263. 
  6. https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/uk/london?year=1999
  7. https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/uk/london?year=2018
  8. https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/uk/london?year=2014
  9. https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/uk/london?year=2033
  10. "Zodiac Signs". Mistupid.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17. 
  11. "Birth Month Flowers". Babiesonline.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17. 
  12. "February Birthstone | Amethyst". Americangemsociety.org. Retrieved 2016-09-17. 
  13. "National Children's Dental Health Month". American Dental Association. 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2017. 
  14. http://www.hellenion.org/2018calendar/
  15. http://www.hellenion.org/2018calendar/
  16. http://www.hellenion.org/2018calendar/
  17. http://www.hellenion.org/2018calendar/
  18. https://www.saferinternetday.org/web/coface
  19. http://www.cfa-fca.ca/programs-projects/food-freedom-day-2017
  20. https://anydayguide.com/calendar/3177
  21. "Random Acts of Kindness". Random Acts of Kindness. 
  22. "Lenten and Paschal Cycle". oca.org. 

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Anthony Aveni, "February's Holidays: Prediction, Purification, and Passionate Pursuit," The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 29–46.

External links[edit | edit source]