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 either as /ˈfɛbjuɛri/ (About this soundlisten) FEB-yoo-err-ee or /ˈfɛbruɛri/ FEB-roo-err-ee. Many people drop the first "r", replacing it with /j/, as if it were spelled "Febuary". This comes about by analogy with "January" (/ˈænjuɛri/ (About this soundlisten)), as well as by a dissimilation effect whereby having two "r"s close to each other causes one to change.[1]


February, from the Très riches heures du Duc de Berry
February, Leandro Bassano
Chocolates for St. Valentine's Day

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.[2] This name originates from sičan,[3] 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".[2]

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.[4] Another name of February in Slovene was vesnar, after the mythological character Vesna.[5]


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.[6][7] 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.[8][9]

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; this occurred in 1965, 1971, 1982, 1993, 1999, 2010 and 2021, and will occur again in 2027. In countries that start their week on a Sunday, it occurs in a common year starting on Thursday, with the next occurrence in 2026, and previous occurrences in 1987, 1998, 2009 and 2015. 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 Beta Leonids, also known as 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 western zodiac signs of February were Aquarius (until February 18, 2020) and Pisces (February 19, 2020 onwards). In 2021 they will shift to 17–18 due to the leap day in 2020.[10][11]

February symbols

The violet
  • White and mauve primroses
    White and mauve primroses
    Its birth flowers are the violet (Viola), the common primrose (Primula vulgaris),[12] and the Iris.[13]
  • Amethyst crystals
    Amethyst crystals
    Its birthstone is the amethyst. It symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity. The zodiac signs for the month of February are Aquarius (until February 20) and Pisces (February 20 onwards). [14]


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

Month-long observances

Non-Gregorian observances, 2020

(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.)

  • List of observances set by the Bahá'í calendar
  • List of observances set by the Chinese calendar
  • List of observances set by the Hebrew calendar
  • List of observances set by the Islamic calendar
  • List of observances set by the Solar Hijri calendar

Movable observances, 2020 dates

  • Food Freedom Day (Canada): February 9
  • Safer Internet Day: February 11
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day: February 17
  • National Day of the Sun: (Argentina) Date varies based on providence

First Saturday: February 1

  • Ice Cream for Breakfast Day

First Sunday: February 2

First Week of February (first Monday, ending on Sunday): February 2–9

  • Doppelganger Week
  • World Interfaith Harmony Week

First Monday: February 3

First Friday: February 7

  • National Wear Red Day (United States)

Second Saturday: February 8

  • International Purple Hijab Day

Second Sunday: February 9

Second Monday: February 10

Second Tuesday: February 11

  • National Sports Day (Qatar)

Week of February 22: February 16–22

  • National Engineers Week (U.S.)

Third Monday: February 17

Third Thursday: February 20

  • Global Information Governance Day

Third Friday: February 21

Last Friday: February 28

  • International Stand Up to Bullying Day

Last Saturday: February 29

  • Open That Bottle Night

Last day of February: February 29

  • Rare Disease Day

Fixed observances


  1. ^ "February | Definition of February by Merriam-Webster". Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  2. ^ 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. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Vasmer, Max, ed. (1972). "Zeitschrift für slavische Philologie". 36–37. Markert&Petters: 115. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "Slovenska imena mesecev" [Slovene Names of Months]. Kmetijske in Rokodelske Novice. 6 (37). 13 September 1848.
  5. ^ Bogataj, Janez (2005). "Slovenska mitologija – Vesna" [Slovene Mythology – Vesna]. Bilten; poštne znamke [Bulletin: Postage Stamps] (in Slovenian, English, and German) (56). ISSN 1318-6280.
  6. ^ "Moon Phases 2018 – Lunar Calendar for London, England, United Kingdom". www.timeanddate.com. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  7. ^ "Moon Phases 2037 – Lunar Calendar for London, England, United Kingdom".
  8. ^ "Moon Phases 2014 – Lunar Calendar for London, England, United Kingdom".
  9. ^ "Moon Phases 2033 – Lunar Calendar for London, England, United Kingdom".
  10. ^ The Earth passed the junction of the signs at 04:56 UT/GMT February 19, 2020, and will pass it again at 10:43 UT/GMT February 18, 2021.
  11. ^ "Astrology Calendar", yourzodiacsign. Signs in UT/GMT for 1950–2030.
  12. ^ "Birth Month Flowers". Babiesonline.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  13. ^ "Birth Month Flower of February - the Iris".
  14. ^ "February Birthstone | Amethyst". Americangemsociety.org. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  15. ^ "LGBT+ History Month". /lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk. Schools Out United Kingdom. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  16. ^ "National Children's Dental Health Month". American Dental Association. 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2017.

Further reading

  • 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

Media files used on this page

Améthystre sceptre2.jpg
Author/Creator: Didier Descouens, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Locality : Mun. Las Vigas de Ramírez (Mun. de Profesor Rafael Ramírez), Veracruz, Mexico
Size : 5x3x3cm
Author/Creator: Dan Polansky based on work currently attributed to Wikimedia Foundation but originally created by Smurrayinchester, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
A logo derived from File:WiktionaryEn.svg, a logo showing a 3 x 3 matrix of variously rotated tiles with a letter or character on each tile. The derivation consisted in removing the tiles that form the background of each of the shown characters. File:WiktionaryEn.svg is under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike, created by Smurrayinchester, and attributed to Wikimedia Foundation. This is the version without the wordmark.
Author/Creator: No machine-readable author provided. Dvortygirl assumed (based on copyright claims)., Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Pronunciation of the term in US English /ˈfɛbjuːˌɛri/, recorded by Dvortygirl, 22 December 2005
Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry février.jpg
An enclosure surrounds a farm comprising a sheep pen and, on the right, four beehives and a dovecote. Inside the house, a woman and a couple of young man and young woman warm themselves in front of the fire. Outside, a man chops down a tree with an axe, bundles of sticks at his feet, while another gets ready to go inside while blowing on his hands to warm them. Further away, a third drives a donkey, loaded with wood, towards the neighbouring village.
Primrose primula cultivars in Great Canfield churchyard, Essex, England 01.jpg
Author/Creator: Acabashi, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
White and pale purple Primula (primrose) cultivars in the churchyard of the Grade I listed St Mary's Church, in Great Canfield village, Essex, England.
Camera: Canon EOS 6D with Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens.
Software: large RAW file lens-corrected, optimized and downsized with DxO OpticsPro 11 Elite, Viewpoint 2, and Adobe Photoshop CS2.
Author/Creator: Dvortygirl, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Pronunciation of the term in US English
Siberian Iris Iris sibirica Flower Closeup 2520px.jpg
Author/Creator: Photo by and (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man), Licence: GFDL 1.2

Closeup photograph of a flower of the Siberian Irisen (Iris sibirica en ). Photo taken at the Tyler Arboretum where it was species identified.

Camera and Exposure Details:
Camera: Nikon D50
Lens: Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro
Exposure: 70mm (105mm in 35mm equivalent) f/16 @ 1/60 s. (320 ISO)
1760 - Salzburg - Stiftskirche St Peter - Viola.JPG
Author/Creator: Andrew Bossi, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5
Viola flowers at the Abbey Church of Saint Peter, Salzburg, Austria
Valentines Day Chocolates from 2005.jpg
Author/Creator: John Hritz from Ann Arbor, MI, USA, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Jacques Torres chocolates
Happy Valentines Day 2005