February (i// or // FEB-ew-ERR-ee or FEB-roo-ERR-ee) is the second month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. It is the shortest month and the only month with fewer than 30 days. The month has 28 days in common years or 29 days in leap years.
February is the third month of meteorological winter in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, February is the third month of summer (the seasonal equivalent of August in the Northern Hemisphere, in meteorological reckoning).
February starts on the same day of the week as March and November in common years, and on the same day of the week as August in leap years. February ends on the same day of the week as October every year and on the same day of the week as January in common years only. In leap years, it is the only month that ends on the same weekday it begins.
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.
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]. Croatians call the month veljača, whose meaning is unknown but may come from the word for "greater," a possible reference to the days increasing in length.
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 the priest and patriot Blaž Potočnik. Another name of February in Slovene was vesnar, after the mythological character Vesna.
February may be pronounced either as (i// or // FEB-ew-ERR-ee or FEB-roo-ERR-ee). Many people pronounce it as (i// ew rather than // 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.
February starts on the same day of the week as both March and November in common years, and as August in leap years. February ends on the same day of the week as October every year and on the same day of the week as January in common years only. In leap years, it is the only month that ends on the same weekday it began.
Having only 28 days in common years, it is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. This last happened in 1999 and will next happen in 2018.
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, will have 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 was observed in 2010 and can be traced back 11 years to 1999, 6 years back to 1993, 11 years back to 1982, 11 years back to 1971 and 6 years back to 1965. In countries that start their week on a Sunday, it occurs in a common year starting on Thursday, with the next occurrence in 2015, and previous occurrences in 2009 (6 years earlier than 2015), 1998 (11 years earlier than 2009) and 1987 (11 years earlier than 1998). This works unless 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.
Events in February
- Black History Month (United States and Canada)
- LGBT History Month (United Kingdom)
- National Bird-Feeding Month (United States)
- Super Bowl: First Sunday of February (United States)
- World Marriage Day: Second Sunday of February
- Presidents Day: Third Monday of February (United States)
- St Brigid’s Day / Imbolc: February 1 (Ireland)
- Groundhog Day: February 2 (United States and Canada)
- Candlemas: February 2
- Independence of Sri Lanka: February 4
- 1917 Constitution of Mexico: February 5
- Waitangi Day: February 6 (New Zealand)
- Slovenian Cultural Holiday: February 8
- National Foundation Day in Japan: February 11
- Abraham Lincoln's birthday: February 12 (United States)
- Valentine's Day: February 14
- Serbia's National Day : February 15
- Flag Day of Canada: February 15
- International Mother Language Day: February 21
- Independence Day in Saint Lucia: February 22
- George Washington's birthday: February 22 (United States)
- Flag Day of Mexico: February 24
- Independence Day in Estonia: February 24
- People Power Revolution (Philippines): February 25
- Liberation Day (Kuwait): February 26
- Dominican Republic Independence: February 27
- Leap Day: February 29 (Every four years, with some exceptions)
- National Day of the Sun (in Argentina)
- National Wear Red Day (in the US and the UK)
- Family Day (Canada) (on the third Monday in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan)
- Its birth flower is the violet (Viola) and the common primrose (Primula vulgaris).
- Its birthstone is the amethyst. It symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity.
- Its Zodiac signs are Aquarius (until February 18) and Pisces (February 19 onwards).
- Koledar prireditev v letu 2007 in druge informacije občine Dobrova–Polhov Gradec [The Calendar of Events and Other Information of the Municipality of Dobrova–Polhov Gradec] (in Slovene). Municipality of Dobrova-Polhov Gradec. 2006.
- Vasmer, Max, ed. (1972). Zeitschrift für slavische Philologie. 36–37. Markert&Petters. p. 115.
- "Slovenska imena mesecev" [Slovene Names of Months]. Kmetijske in rokodelske novice 6 (37). 13 September 1848.
- Bogataj, Janez (2005). "Slovenska mitologija – Vesna" [Slovene Mythology – Vesna]. Bilten; poštne znamke [Bulletin: Postage Stamps] (in Slovene, English, German) (56). ISSN 1318-6280.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary, February
- "Birth Month Flowers".
- "FEBRUARY BIRTHSTONE".
- "Zodiac signs and date ranges used in astrology".
- 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.
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- The Straight Dope: How come February has only 28 days?
- "February". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.