February is the second month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars.
The month has 28 days in common years or 29 in leap years, with the 29th day being called the leap day.
It is the first of five months not to have 31 days (the other four being April, June, September, and November) and the only one to have fewer than 30 days.
February starts on the same day of the week as March and November in common years and August in leap years. It ends on the same day of the week as October in all years and January in common years only.
February comes from the Latin word februa, which means “to cleanse.” The month was named after the Roman Februalia, which was a month-long festival of purification and atonement that took place this time of year.
The old Roman calendar had only ten months, starting in March and ending with December (Latin for “the tenth month”). When the two winter months January and February were added, February became the last month of the year and was given 28 days to fit into the calendar.
To keep up with the seasons, the Romans introduced a leap month they called Intercalaris. The extra month was added every couple of years after February, which was shortened to 23 or 24 days to make room for the
In the year 46 BC, Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar system—the Julian calendar. He abolished the Intercalaris and instead introduced what would become the leap year, where every fourth year, February had
29 days instead of 28. This was the beginning of the modern leap day.
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 (lyutiy), 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. This name originates from sičan, 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”.
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. Another name of February in Slovene was vesnar, after the mythological character Vesna.
Groundhog Day is a popular North American tradition observed in the United States and Canada on February 2. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks – if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.
Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, through later folk traditions, has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.
Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February. In Chinese culture and Asian countries within Sinosphere, the festival is also commonly referred to as Spring Festival as the spring season in the lunisolar calendar traditionally starts with lichun, the first of the twenty-four solar terms which the festival celebrates around the time of the Lunar New Year. Marking the end of winter and the beginning of the spring season, observances traditionally take place from New Year’s Eve, the evening preceding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year.
The Full Moon in February is called Snow Moon after the snowy conditions in the last month of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Some North American tribes traditionally called the February Moon the Hunger Moon, since there was little food in the winter months.
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).
The western zodiac signs of February were Aquarius and Pisces.
Its birthstone is the amethyst. It symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity.