Friday, February 5, 2010

February

February was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification.
     Februa was also known as Februatio. It was a Roman festival of ritual purfification, also commonly known as Lupercalia. It was basically one of spring washing or cleaning by water. It was thought that it became associated with water because this month was a month of raininess.  The festival was probably from Sabine origin but the Ovid believed it derived from an earlier Etruscan word referring to purging. It fell on the 15th day of Februarius which became February in the English tongue. The god Februus became associated with the festival and the month February.
     Februus was the god of the dead and of purification. He was worshipped mostly by the Etruscans, where he became the god of malaria, named Febris. Februalia was held in his honor at the same time that Lupercalia was held in the honor of the god Faun. Through time the two became as the same entity.
     Februailia also became the Roman god of February, which became a time period of sacrifices that were made to atone for sins.
 February was added to the calendar by Numa Pompilius around 700 BCE.  Then it was the last month of the calendar until the time of decemvirs around 450 BCE when it became the 2nd month.
     In other parts of the European continent the month that became known as February was also known by other names. The Anglo-Saxon called the month Salmonath which meant mud month and Kale-monath named for cabbage. In the Finnish language it was called helmikuu which means the month of the pearl because the snow would melt on the tree branches therefore forming tiny droplets of water and then re-freezes, forming tiny ice droplets that looked like pearls on the branches. The Scots' term for this month was Feberwary and Februar.
     February is the only month that can pass without a single full moon. The birth flower of this month is the Viola plant and the Primrose. It's birthstone is the amethyst.
     Of course we know this is the shortest month of the year. Tradition holds the reason why is because the emperor Augustus took away one day from February and gave it to the month named after him, August.

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