I was reading my dictionary.com “Word of the Day” (I know what you are thinking…YES, I am that nerdy!) this morning and stumbled upon a link to the history of my birth month! Here is what it had to say:
“Though February is the shortest month of the year, it often feels like the longest in cold, snowy climates. Why does the month have only 28 days? (Well, 29 this year.)
First here’s a little history of our calendar. The original Roman calendar only had ten months, because the winter was not demarcated. In the 700s BC, the second king of Rome Numa Pompilius added January and February to the end of the calendar in order to conform to how long it actually takes the Earth to go around the Sun.The two new months were both originally 28 days long. It is lost to history why January acquired more days, though there are various unverifiable hypotheses. At that time, March 1 became New Years’ Day. Later, in 153 BC, the beginning of the year was moved to January 1.
The word February comes from the Roman festival of purification called Februa where people were ritually washed. There is a Roman god called Februus, but he is named after the festival, not the other way around. Other months, like January, are named after Roman gods.
The interesting linguistic story, though, lies in England. Before we adopted the Latin name for the second month, Old English used much more vibrant names to describe it. The most common Old English name was Solmonath, which literally means “mud month.” It is pretty clear what they were describing. A lesser-used term was Kale-monath, which meant “cabbage month.” We can imagine that the English were eating a lot of cabbage in February in the 1100s.” Hmmm…delightful?
So cheers to February and all of the mud and cabbage it brings!