The Month of February 2023: Holidays, Fun Facts, Folklore
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Everything You Should Know About February
January 12, 2023
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What do we celebrate in February? What is February famous for? Here’s a short list of holiday happenings and February facts that you should know!
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 that took place this time of year. 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 and 2024.
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.
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 27 is Clean Monday. Also called Pure Monday, this day marks the beginning of Great Lent for followers of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. This day is similar to Ash Wednesday of the Western Church.
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.
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 Full Snow Moon
February’s full Moon reaches peak illumination at Sunday, February 5, 2023. Look skyward on that night to catch the best view of this full Moon!
It’s known as the Snow Moon due to the typically heavy snowfall that occurs in February. Other traditional Native American names for this Moon include the Eagle Moon (Cree), Raccoon Moon (Dakota), and Hungry Moon (Cherokee). Read more about the February Snow Moon here!
Credit: Dima Chechin GettyImages
Ready for football food? See our Super Bowl Dip Recipes—including spinach dip, guacamole, hummus, nacho layer dip, salsa and more!
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.
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 the page!
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 quiz:
George Washington: D. February 4, 1789. Congress certified the vote on April 6. Washington took the oath of office on April 30,
Valentine’s Day: 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.