February is the second month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. It is the shortest Gregorian month and the only month with the length of 28 or 29 days. The month has 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four (except for years that are divisible by 100 and not by 400). In other years the month has 28 days.
February begins (astrologically) with the sun in the sign of Aquarius and ends in the sign of Pisces. Astronomically speaking, the sun begins in the constellation of Capricornus and ends in the constellation of Aquarius.
February was named for the Roman god Februus, the god of purification. January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. This change was made by Numa Pompilius about 700 BCE in order to bring the calendar in line with a standard lunar year. Numa's Februarius contained 29 days (30 in a leap year). Augustus is alleged to have removed one day from February and added it to August, (renamed from Sextilis to honor himself), so that Julius Caesar's July would not contain more days. However there is little historical evidence to support this claim.
February was nominally the last month of the Roman calendar, as the year originally began in March. At certain intervals Roman priests inserted an intercalary month, Mercedonius, after February to realign the year with the seasons.
Historical names for February include the Anglo-Saxon terms Solmoneth (sun month) and Kale-monath (named for cabbage) as well as Charlemagne's designation Hornung. In old Japanese calendar, the month is called Kisaragi (如月, 絹更月 or 衣更月). It is sometimes also called Mumetsuki (梅見月) or Konometsuki (木目月).
Events in February
February 30 has occurred three times in history.
- In common years February begins on the same day of the week as March and November. In leap years February begins on the same day of the week as August.
- February's flower is the primrose.
- February's birthstone is the amethyst.