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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 is the third and last month of meteorological winter in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, February is the third and last month of meteorological summer (being the seasonal equivalent of what is August in the Northern Hemisphere).


"February" is pronounced in several different ways. The beginning of the word is commonly pronounced either as /ˈfɛbju-/ FEB-yoo- or /ˈfɛbru-/ FEB-roo-; many people drop the first "r", replacing it with /j/, as if it were spelled "Febuary". This comes about by analogy with "January" (/ˈæn.ju-/ ), as well as by a dissimilation effect whereby having two "r"s close to each other causes one to change.[1][2] The ending of the word is pronounced /-ɛri/ -⁠err-ee in the US and /-əri/ -⁠ər-ee in the UK.

A colloquial pronunciation (by haplology and metathesis) seen across dialects is /ˈfɛb.ri/ (as if written Febry, an attested vulgar form in e.g. unlearned writing, poetry, abbreviation).


February, from the Très riches heures du Duc de Berry
February, Leandro Bassano

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 times February was truncated to 23 or 24 days, and a 27-day intercalary month, Intercalaris, was occasionally inserted immediately after February to realign the year with the seasons.

February observances in Ancient Rome included Amburbium (precise date unknown), Sementivae (February 2), Februa (February 13–15), Lupercalia (February 13–15), Parentalia (February 13–22), Quirinalia (February 17), Feralia (February 21), Caristia (February 22), Terminalia (February 23), Regifugium (February 24), and Agonium Martiale (February 27). These days do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.

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, but also 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 (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.[3] This name originates from sičan,[4] 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".[3] 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.[5] Another name of February in Slovene was vesnar, after the mythological character Vesna.[6]


Chocolates for St. Valentine's Day

Having only 28 days in common years, February is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. Using Coordinated Universal Time as the basis for determining the date and time of a full moon, this last happened in 2018 and will next happen in 2037.[7][8] The same is true regarding a new moon: again using Coordinated Universal Time as the basis, this last happened in 2014 and will next happen in 2033.[9][10]

February is also the only month of the calendar that, at intervals alternating between one of six years and two of eleven years, has exactly 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; the most recent occurrence was 2021, and the next one will be 2027. In countries that start their week on a Sunday, it occurs in a common year starting on Thursday; the most recent occurrence was 2015 and the next occurrence will be 2026. 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.


February meteor showers include the Alpha Centaurids (appearing in early February), 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 violet
White and mauve primroses
White and mauve primroses
Purple Siberian iris
Purple Siberian iris
Amethyst crystals
Amethyst crystals

The zodiac signs of February are Aquarius (until February 18) and Pisces (February 19 onward).[11]

Its birth flowers are the violet (Viola), the common primrose (Primula vulgaris),[12] and the Iris.[13] Its birthstone is the amethyst, which symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity.[citation needed]


This list does not necessarily imply either official status nor general observance.



(All Baha'i, Islamic, and Jewish observances begin at the sundown prior to the date listed, and end at sundown of the date in question unless otherwise noted.)


First Saturday

First Sunday

First Week of February (first Monday, ending on Sunday)

First Monday

First Friday

Second Saturday

Second Sunday

Second Monday

Second Tuesday

Week of February 22

Third Monday

Third Thursday

Third Friday

Last Friday

Last Saturday

Last day of February



  1. ^ "February | Definition of February by Merriam-Webster". Merriam-webster.com. Archived from the original on 2016-09-18. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  2. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  3. ^ a b 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
  4. ^ Vasmer, Max, ed. (1972). Zeitschrift für slavische Philologie. Vol. 36–37. Markert&Petters. p. 115. Archived from the original on 2021-02-06. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  5. ^ "Slovenska imena mesecev" [Slovene Names of Months]. Kmetijske in Rokodelske Novice. 6 (37). 13 September 1848. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  6. ^ Bogataj, Janez (2005). "Slovenska mitologija – Vesna" [Slovene Mythology – Vesna]. Bilten; poštne znamke [Bulletin: Postage Stamps] (in Slovenian, English, and German) (56). ISSN 1318-6280. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  7. ^ "Moon Phases 2018 – Lunar Calendar for London, England, United Kingdom". www.timeanddate.com. Archived from the original on 2021-08-29. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  8. ^ "Moon Phases 2037 – Lunar Calendar for London, England, United Kingdom". Archived from the original on 2018-03-03. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  9. ^ "Moon Phases 2014 – Lunar Calendar for London, England, United Kingdom". Archived from the original on 2017-10-26. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  10. ^ "Moon Phases 2033 – Lunar Calendar for London, England, United Kingdom". Archived from the original on 2017-10-26. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  11. ^ "February Birthstone | Amethyst". Americangemsociety.org. Archived from the original on 2013-06-30. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  12. ^ "Birth Month Flowers". Babiesonline.com. Archived from the original on 2016-08-05. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  13. ^ "Birth Month Flower of February - the Iris". Archived from the original on 2018-10-16. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  14. ^ "National Children's Dental Health Month". American Dental Association. 2017. Archived from the original on September 15, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]