February 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 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four (except for years that are divisible by 100 and not by 400 in the Gregorian calendar). In common years the month has 28 days. Leap year birthdays are usually celebrated on the 28th in a non-leap year. Some believe that February originally had 29 days (30 in a leap year), but that idea was invented by Sacrobosco during the Middle Ages. See Month lengths.
February was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 in the old 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 700 BCE. February remained the last month of the calendar year until the time of the decemvirs (c. 450 BCE), when it became the second month. At certain intervals Roman priests truncated February to 23 or 24 days and inserted a 27-day intercalary month, Intercalaris, after February to realign the year with the seasons. See from Roman to Julian. 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, February continued to be the second month whenever all twelve months were displayed in order.
February begins, astronomically speaking, with the sun in the constellation of Capricornus and ends with the sun in the constellation of Aquarius. Astrologically speaking, February begins with the sun in the sign of Aquarius and ends in the sign of Pisces.
Historical names for February include the Anglo-Saxon terms Solmoneth (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.
Many people pronounce "February" with a round 'u' instead of an open 'u' vowel, which forces the first 'r' to be eclipsed, viz. 'FEB-yoo-air-ee' (IPA:/ˈfɛbjuˌɛri/) instead of 'FEB-roo-air-ee' (IPA:/ˈfɛbruˌɛri/). That is, it elides into first half of the trailing diphthong. Otherwise, the flanking mid vowel ('e') and back vowel ('u'), combined with the final -ry syllable (front vowel 'ee') make the 'br' difficult for Anglophones to pronounce in the first place. The problem does not usually arise for Scotiaphones, however. The Scottish names for the month are "Feberwary" and "Februar," the latter usually pronounced with a long "ay" vowel in the first syllable.
Events in February
- American Heart Month
- Black History Month (United States and Canada)
- Library Lovers Month
- National Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month (Canada)
- National School Counseling Week (first week, United States)
- National Children's Dental Health Month
- AFC-NFC Pro Bowl
- NBA All-Star game
- Daytona 500
- Westminster Dog Show
- Darwin Day celebration
- Carnival (Celebrated before Lent)
- NHL All-Star game
- The Super Bowl
- The Great Backyard Bird Count
- Mardi Gras (Sometime between February 3 to March 9 in non-leap years or February 4 to March 9 in leap years)
- Ash Wednesday (Sometime between February 4 and March 10)
- Imbolc (February 2)
- Sam McCarthy's birth date (February 2)
- Groundhog Day / Candlemas (February 2)
- Constitution Day (Mexico) (February 5)
- Sami National Day, (February 6)
- Waitangi Day, New Zealand (February 6)
- Dreadnought Day (February 10)
- Abraham Lincoln's Birthday (February 12)
- St. Valentine's Day (February 14)
- Flag Day - Canada (February 15)
- Kim Jong-Il's birthday, (February 16)
- HRM King Harald's birthday (Norway) (February 21)
- International Mother Language Day (February 21)
- National Engineers Week (week of Presidents day) (United States)
- Thinking Day (Girl Guides) (February 22)
- B.P. Day (Scouts Canada) (February 22)
- Founder's Day (Scout Association (UK)) (February 22)
- Independence Day (Dominican Republic) (February 27)
- Massacre Day, (Taiwan) (February 28)
- Presidents' Day (3rd Monday), or Washington's
- February begins on the same day of the week as March and November in a common year, and on the same day of the week as August in a leap year.
- Sweden had a February 30 in 1712.
- February in the Northern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent to August in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa.
- February's birthstone is amethyst.
- February's birth flower is the violet or primrose.
- The Chinese floral emblem of February is the peach blossom.
- February is the most commonly misspelled month (as Febuary, a phonetic spelling error).
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