February wasn't always the second month of the year. It started out as the last month in the Roman calendar. January and February were added to the Roman calendar about 713 BC. Prior to that time Romans considered winter to be a monthless period. About 450 BC the Roman calendar was re-arranged, and February became the second month of the year. At certain intervals, February was truncated to 23 or 24 days and a temporary 27-day month was inserted immediately after February to realign the year with the seasons. The reforms that created the Julian calendar in 45 BC did away with the temporary month and created leap years which occurred every four years. During leap years, February gained a 29th day. the Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar in 1582 which further refined how leap years and leap centuries are handled. The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar today.
Februarius, the Roman name for February, comes from the festival of ritual purification Februa held on February 15 (full moon) in the old Roman calendar. The festival celebrated Spring washing or cleansing. The festival of Februa was later incorporated in to Lupercalia, a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture. Lupercalia was deemed un-Christian in the fifth century when Pope Gelasius replaced it with St. Valentine's Day. Over the years Valentine's Day became the day to celebrate love and romance
February's birthstone is amethyst which symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom and sincerity. Amethyst, from the Greek amethystos meaning "not-intoxicated," was believed by ancients to protect against drunkenness. It is also believed if you place an amethyst under your pillow you'll have pleasant dreams - perhaps about the one you love!
Lynn's musings about all facets of jewelry.