What do we celebrate in February? What is February famous for? It’s a leap year this year, so let’s celebrate all that this longer-than-usual February has to offer! Here’s the short list of holiday happenings.
Here delicate snow-stars, out of the cloud,
Come floating downward in airy play,
Like spangles dropped from the glistening crowd
That whiten by night
the milky way.
–“The Snow-Shower,” by William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
The Month of February
February comes from the Latin word februa, which means “to cleanse.” The month was named after the Roman Februalia, which was a month-long festival of purification and atonement. See all the month names.
Did you know:
- February is the only month to have a length of fewer than 30 days! Though it’s usually 28 days, February is 29 days long in leap years such as 2020.
- January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar (c. 713 BC); originally, winter was considered a month-less period.
- Originally, February was made the last month of the calendar year. Eventually (c. 450 BC), February was moved to its place as the second month.
Important Dates in February 2020
This month is packed with holidays and history. This year, it even has an extra day!
- February 2 is Groundhog Day—the day we find out whether winter will last six more weeks or call it quits early. How did this quirky tradition get started? Find out the meaning of Groundhog Day.
- February 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. The 16th president of the United States was born in a one-room, 16x18-foot, log cabin with a dirt floor.
- February 14 is always Valentine’s Day. Heads up, lovebirds! Today, the holiday is celebrated with love, flowers, and chocolate, but how did this holiday get its start? Learn all about Valentine’s Day.
- February 15 is Susan B. Anthony’s Birthday. How much do you know about this women’s right leader?
- February 15 is also the National Flag of Canada Day!
- February 17 brings Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday also known as Washington’s Birthday that is celebrated on the third Monday in February. (George Washington’s actual birthday is February 22.)
- February 25 is Mardi Gras (aka “Fat Tuesday” or Shrove Tuesday), which is the final feasting day before the Christian tradition of Lent begins on the following day, Ash Wednesday.
- February 29 is a Leap Day. This is the extra day that’s added to our calendars every four years (with some exceptions) to ensure that our seasons and calendars don’t drift out of sync! Read more about leap years.
February is African-American History Month. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
Learn more here.
George Washington celebrates his birthday this month, on February 22.
On February 4 of which year did the Electoral College unanimously elect George Washington as the first U.S. president?
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, which English poet wrote the sonnet that includes the famous line, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”?
1. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61)
2. Lord George Gordon Byron (1788–1824)
3. William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
Answers at bottom of page!
February Night Sky
The Full Snow Moon
February’s full Moon, the Snow Moon, reaches peak fullness at 2:34 A.M. EST on Sunday, February 9, 2020. Look skyward on Saturday night to catch the best view of this full Moon! Why is it called the full Snow Moon? Read more about it here!
Recipes for the Season
Ready for football food? See our Super Bowl Dip Recipes—including spinach dip, guacamole, hummus, nacho layer dip, salsa and more!
For Valentine’s Day, we’ve gathered our favorite sweets and treats and romantic dinner ideas, too. See Valentine’s Day recipes.
If you a chocolate lover, Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without a dip into decadence. See our best chocolate dessert recipes.
This is month to plan your garden! We’ll give you advice on how to space your plans and more! Try our Almanac Garden Planner for your best harvest yet. We’re offering a free 7-day trial.
Start onions from seed now. They’ll be ready for setting out in April. Onions from seed are generally firmer and longer lasting than from sets.
Start parsley indoors now. You may think you have successfully wintered over the plant, but it is a biennial and will soon go to seed.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, check out these pages on tips and advice in the love department:
- How to Find Your Perfect Mate
- How to Get Lucky the Old-Fashioned Way
- The Aphrodisiac That Really Works
Looking for the best days to quit smoking, prune trees, garden, wean babies, cut hair, lose weight, and more? See our Best Days by the Moon’s Sign.
February’s Zodiac Signs
Aquarius: January 20–February 19
Pisces: February 20–March 20
February’s Birth Flower
Even though so many roses are sold during February due to Valentine’s Day, the Violet and the Primrose are the symbolic flowers.
- The violet signifies watchfulness, loyalty, and faithfulness. Give a violet to someone to let them know that you’ll always be there for them.
- The primrose lets someone know that you can’t live without them.
Like the violet, February’s birthstone is a purple color. It’s the beautiful amethyst.
- This gem is a form of quartz; it can range from a pale lilac color to a deep, rich purple.
- The name is based on a Greek myth that speaks of a nymph named Amethyst who was inadvertently turned into white stone; in remorse, the Greek god Bacchus poured wine over her to turn her a beautiful purple.
- The amethyst was thought to prevent intoxication and keep its wearer thinking sharply. It was worn by English royalty in the Middle Ages.
Folklore for the Season
Married in February’s sleety weather,
Life you’ll tread in tune together.
If February give much snow,
A fine summer it doth foreshow.
Fogs in February mean frosts in May.
If Candlemas Day [February 2] be mild and gay
Go saddle your horses, and buy them hay
But if Candlemas Day be stormy and black,
It carries the winter away on its back.
It is better to see a troop of wolves than a fine February.
*Answer to questions at top of page:
George Washington Quiz: D. February 4, 1789. Congress certified the vote on April 6. Washington took the oath of office on April 30,
Valentine’s Day Quiz: 1. The poem, titled “How Do I Love Thee?,” is Sonnet 43 in Browning’s book Sonnets From the Portuguese, which was dedicated to her husband, poet Robert Browning.