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February (listen) (help·info) 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 and 29 days in leap years. Also known as "Hunter's Month".
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 January in common years only. In leap years, it is the only month that ends on the same weekday it begins.
February 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.
Many people pronounce the 'ru' of "February" /juː/ ( listen) you rather than /ruː/ 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. The Scots language names for the month are Feberwary and Februar, the latter usually pronounced with a long "ay" in the first syllable.
February starts on the same day of the week as both March and November in common years, and August in leap years.
Having only 28 days in common years, it is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. It is also the only month of the calendar that once every six years and twice every 11 years, will have only four full 7-day weeks. Where the first day of the month starts on a Monday and the last day ends on 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 so on twice 11 years consecutively and once six years either forward into the future or back into the past. 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. (Years that are evenly divisible by 100 are not leap years, unless they are also evenly divisible by 400, in which case they are leap years.) A year of this kind would be a common year starting on Friday. It cannot happen in a leap year.
Events in February
- Black History Month (Canada and United States)
- LGBT History Month (United Kingdom)
- National Bird-Feeding Month
- Parent Leadership Month
- Aboliltion of Slavery in Mauritius:February 1
- St Brigid’s Day: February 1, Ireland
- Groundhog Day: February 2, United States and Canada
- Imbolc: February 2
- Chinese new Year: February 3rd
- Independence of Sri Lanka: February 4
- 1917 Constitution of Mexico: February 5
- Waitangi Day in New Zealand: February 6
- 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
- Saint Valentine's Day Massacre: An infamous mafia attack. February 14
- Flag Day of Canada: February 15
- Kosovo's Independence Day: February 17
- Presidents Day (United States, third Monday)
- International Mother Language Day: February 21
- Independence Day in Saint Lucia: February 22
- George Washington's birthday: February 22, United States (often coincides with President's Day, see above)
- 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)
- Its birth flower is the violet (Viola (plant)) and the common primrose (Primula vulgaris).
- Its birthstone is the amethyst. It symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity.
- 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.
- The Straight Dope: How come February has only 28 days?
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "February". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Months and days of the year January February March April May June July August September October November December Related dates
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February — Feb ru*a*ry, n. [L. Februarius, orig., the month of expiation, because on the fifteenth of this month the great feast of expiation and purification was held, fr. februa, pl., the Roman festival or purification; akin to februare to purify, expiate … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
February — late 14c., from L. februarius mensis month of purification, from februa purifications, expiatory rites (plural of februum), of unknown origin, said to be a Sabine word. The last month of the ancient (pre 450 B.C.E.) Roman calendar, so named in… … Etymology dictionary
February — should be pronounced with both rs fully articulated. It is now common, especially in AmE, to hear the word pronounced as if it were Febuary (and it is occasionally spelt that way too, which is a great deal worse) … Modern English usage
February — ► NOUN (pl. Februaries) ▪ the second month of the year. ORIGIN Latin februarius, from februa, the name of a purification feast held in this month … English terms dictionary
February — or Feb. or F. [feb′ro͞o er΄ē, feb′yo͞o er΄ē] n. pl. Februaries or Februarys [ME Februarie < L Februarius (mensis), orig. month of expiation < februa, Rom. festival of purification held Feb. 15, pl. of februum, means of purification, prob.… … English World dictionary
February — Feb|ru|a|ry [ˈfebruəri, ˈfebjuri US ˈfebjueri] n [U and C] written abbreviation Feb. [Date: 1300 1400; : Latin; Origin: Februarius, from Februa, Roman religious ceremony in February to make things pure] the second month of the year, between… … Dictionary of contemporary English