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).
- 1 History
- 2 February symbols
- 3 Pronunciation
- 4 Patterns
- 5 Observances
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
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].
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.
- 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 19) and Pisces (February 20 onwards).
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.
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, and will be observed 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 2015 (11 years earlier than 2026), 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.
This list does not necessarily imply either official status nor general observance.
- In Catholic tradition, February is the Month of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- American Heart Month (United States)
- Black History Month (United States, Canada)
- LGBT History Month (United Kingdom)
- National Bird-Feeding Month (United States)
- Season for Nonviolence: January 30-April 4 (International observance)
Non-Gregorian observances, 2016
- 22 Shevat (Hebrew Calendar, Chabad sect of Judaism only) - February 1
- Ali Ai Ligang (Mishing people, Assam, India) - February 2
- Donggin (Bori Tribe, India) - February 2
- Lunar New Year (for calendars based on the traditional Chinese calendar)
- Losar (Tibetan calendar) - February 9
- Hekate's Deipnon (Attic calendar, Hellenism) - February 9 
- Yom Kippur Katan - February 9
- Galungan (Balinese calendar) - February 10
- Noumenia (Attic calendar, Hellenism) - February 10 
- Rosh Chodesh of Adar I (Jewish Calendar) - February 10
- Ganesh Jayanti (Hinduism) - February 11
- Vasant Panchami (Hinduism. Sikhism) - February 12
- Ratha Saptami (Hinduism) - February 14
- Lui Ngai Ni (Naga people, Indian national calendar) - February 15
- Oriah (Wancho people, India) - February 16
- Anthesteria - Pithoigia (Attic calendar, Hellenism) - February 20
- Galungan (Balinese calendar) - February 20
- Anthesteria - Choes (Attic calendar, Hellenism (religion)) - February 21
- Anthesteria - Chytroi (Attic calendar, Hellenism (religion)) - February 22
- Birthday of Guru Ravidas (Indian national calendar, (Ravidassia religion) - February 22
- Chotrul Duchen (Tibetan calendar) - February 22
- Daeboreum (Korean calendar) - February 22
- Magha Puja (Burmese calendar, Theravada) - February 22
- Purim Katan (Hebrew Calendar) - February 23
- Shushan Purim Katan (Hebrew Calendar) - February 24 (Note: neither observance here is to be confused with Purim itself, which is celebrated in March 2016)
- Ayya Vaikunda Avataram (Ayyavazhi, Tamil calendar) - February 24–25
- Sankashti Chaturthi (Hinduism) - February 25, monthly observance
- Ayyám-i-Há (Bahai calendar) - February 26–29 
- Lesser Mysteries (Attic calendar, Hellenism) - February 29-March 6 
Movable observances, 2016 dates
- Food Freedom Day (Canada): February 9
- Israeli Apartheid Week: February 22–28 (United Kingdom), February 29-March 7 (Europe)
- National Day of the Sun: (Argentina) Date varies based on providence
Monday closest to January 29 - February 1
- Auckland Anniversary Day (parts of New Zealand)
First Monday - February 1
First Week of February (first Monday, ending on Sunday) - February 1–7
First Friday - February 5
- National Wear Red Day (United States)
First Saturday - February 6
First Sunday - February 7
Second Monday - February 8
Second Day of the second week - February 8
Second Tuesday - February 9
- National Sports Day (Qatar)
Second Saturday - February 13
Second Sunday - February 14
- Autism Sunday - United Kingdom
- Children's Day (Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Tokelau, Cayman Islands)
- Mother's Day (Norway)
- World Marriage Day
Third Monday' - February 15
- Family Day (Canada) (provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan)
- President's Day/Washington's Birthday: (United States)
Third Thursday - February 18
Third Friday - February 19
- Yukon Heritage Day (Canada)
Week of February 22 - February 21–27
Last Tuesday - February 23
Last Friday - February 26
Last Saturday - February 27
Last day of February - February 29
Movable Western Christian Observances - 2017 dates
- Septuagesima - February 12
- Sexagesima - February 19
- Fat Thursday - February 23
- Festum Ovorum (University of Oxford) - February 25
- Quinquagesima - February 26
- Shrove Monday - February 27
- Shrove Tuesday - February 28
Movable Eastern Christian Observances - 2017 dates
- Zacchaeus Sunday/Sunday of the Canaanite - January 29
- Publican & Pharisee Sunday - February 5
- Sunday of the Prodigal Son - February 12
- Meatfare Week February 12-19
- Saturday of Souls February 18
- Sunday of Last Judgement (Meat Fare Sunday) February 19
- Maslenitsa February 19-27
- Quinquagesima February 26
- Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheese-Fare Sunday) February 26
- Great Lent February 27
- February 1
- Abolition of Slavery Day (Mauritius)
- Air Force Day (Nicaragua)
- Federal Territory Day (Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, Malaysia)
- Heroes' Day (Rwanda)
- Imbolc (Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, and some Neopagan groups in the Northern hemisphere)
- Lammas (some Neopagan groups in the Southern hemisphere)
- Memorial Day of the Republic (Hungary)
- National Freedom Day (United States)
- World Hijab Day
- February 2
- Anniversary of Treaty of Tartu (Estonia)
- Constitution Day (Philippines)
- Day of Youth (Azerbaijan)
- Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (or Candlemas) (Western Christianity), and its related observances:
- Groundhog Day (United States and Canada)
- Inventor's Day (Thailand)
- National Tater Tot Day (United States)
- Sementivae (Ancient Rome)
- World Wetlands Day
- February 3
- February 4
- February 5
- February 6
- International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
- Ronald Reagan Day (California, United States)
- Sami National Day (Russia, Finland, Norway and Sweden)
- Waitangi Day (New Zealand)
- February 7
- February 8
- February 9
- February 10
- February 11
- 112 day (European Union)
- Armed Forces Day (Liberia)
- Day of Revenue Service (Azerbaijan)
- Evelio Javier Day (Panay Island, the Philippines)
- Feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes (Catholic Church), and its related observance:
- Inventors' Day (United States)
- National Foundation Day (Japan)
- Youth Day (Cameroon)
- February 12
- Darwin Day (International)
- Georgia Day (Georgia (U.S. state))
- International Day of Women's Health
- Lincoln's Birthday (United States)
- National Freedom to Marry Day (United States)
- Red Hand Day (United Nations)
- Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day (Canada)
- Union Day (Myanmar)
- Youth Day (Venezuela)
- February 13
- February 14
- February 15
- February 16
- February 17
- February 18
- February 19
- February 20
- February 21
- February 22
- February 23
- Mashramani-Republic Day (Guyana)
- Meteņi (Latvia)
- National Banana Bread Day (United States)
- National Day (Brunei)
- Red Army Day or Day of Soviet Army and Navy in the former Soviet Union, also held in various former Soviet republics:
- Terminalia held in honor of Terminus (Ancient Rome)
- February 24
- February 25
- Armed Forces Day (Dominican Republic)
- Kitano Baika-sai or "Plum Blossom Festival" (Kitano Tenman-gū Shrine, Kyoto, Japan)
- Meher Baba's birthday (followers of Meher Baba)
- Memorial Day for the Victims of the Communist Dictatorships (Hungary)
- National Day (Kuwait)
- People Power Day (Philippines)
- Revolution Day (Suriname)
- Soviet Occupation Day (Georgia)
- February 26
- Liberation Day (Kuwait)
- Day of Remembrance for Victims of Khojaly massacre (Azerbaijan)
- National Wear Red Day (United Kingdom)
- Saviours' Day (Nation of Islam)
- February 27
- February 28
- February 29
- "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] (PDF) (in Slovenian). Municipality of Dobrova-Polhov Gradec. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-02.
- Vasmer, Max, ed. (1972). "Zeitschrift für slavische Philologie". 36–37. Markert&Petters: 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 Slovenian, English, and German) (56). ISSN 1318-6280.
- "Birth Month Flowers". Babiesonline.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
- "February Birthstone | Amethyst". Americangemsociety.org. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
- "Zodiac Signs". Mistupid.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
- "February | Definition of February by Merriam-Webster". Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
- "2015 Hellenion Calendar". Hellenion.org. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-29. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
- "Hindu Festivals in February 2016 for Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States". Drikpanchang.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
- "Religious Holidays 2015-2016" (PDF). Dos.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
- "Food Freedom Day 2016 | CFA - Canadian Federation of Agriculture". Cfa-fca.ca. 2016-02-09. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
- 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.