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February: Holidays, fun facts, and everything else you should know

What do we celebrate in February? What is February famous for? Here’s a short list of holiday happenings and February facts that you should know!

The month of February

February comes from the Latin word februa, which means “to cleanse.” The month was named after the Roman Februalia, which was a month-long festival of purification and atonement that took place this time of year.

Did you know…?

• February is the only month to have a length of fewer than 30 days! Though it’s usually 28 days, February is 29 days long in leap years such as 2020.

• January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar (c. 713 BC); originally, winter was considered a month-less period.

• Originally, February was made the last month of the calendar year. Eventually (c. 450 BC), February was moved to its place as the second month.

February quiz

1. On February 4 of which year did the Electoral College unanimously elect George Washington as the first U.S. president?

A. 1777

B. 1779

C. 1789

2. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, which English poet wrote the sonnet that includes the famous line, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”?

A. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61)

B. Lord George Gordon Byron (1788–1824)

C. William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

February calendar

• February 2 is Groundhog Day—the day we find out whether winter will last six more weeks or call it quits early.

• February 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. The 16th president of the United States was born in a one-room, 16’x18’ log cabin with a dirt floor.

• February 12 is also Chinese New Year. This year is the Year of the Ox.

• February 14 is always Valentine’s Day.

• February 15 is Susan B. Anthony’s Birthday.

• February 15 brings Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday also known as Washington’s Birthday that is celebrated on the third Monday in February. (George Washington’s actual birthday is February 22!)

• February 16 is Mardi Gras (aka “Fat Tuesday” or Shrove Tuesday), which is the final feasting day before the Christian tradition of Lent begins on the following day, Ash Wednesday (February 17).

• February is African-American History Month. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

February weather

On average, February is the United States’ snowiest month, according to data from the National Weather Service. The southeast region’s long-range weather forecast for this year is as follows: February 1-6, sunny and mild; February 7-14, scattered showers and warm; February 15-26, sunny and warm; February 27-28, rainy and mild. The entire month of February will be around 55º and have about 2” of precipitation. (Southeast region includes all or part of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.)

February astronomy

February’s full moon, the Full Snow Moon, reaches peak fullness at 3:19 a.m. EST on Saturday, February 27, 2021.

It’s known as the Snow Moon due to the typically heavy snowfall that occurs in February. Other Native American names for this moon are: Make Branches Fall Into Pieces Moon, Raccoon Moon, and Hunger Moon.

February gardening tips

Have you started planning your garden? This is the time! Shop early for seeds from catalogs and garden stores. The early shopper gets the best choice of seed varieties. Also, start onions from seed now. They’ll be ready for setting out in April. Onions from seed are generally firmer and longer lasting than from sets. Lastly, start parsley indoors now. You may think you have successfully wintered over the plant, but it is a biennial and will soon go to seed.


• Zodiac signs for February: Aquarius (January 20–February 19) and Pisces (February 20–March 20)

• Mercury’s first 2021 retrograde periods is January 30–February 21.

February’s birthstone

Like the violet, February’s birthstone is a purple color. It’s the beautiful amethyst.

• This gem is a form of quartz; it can range from a pale lilac color to a deep, rich purple.

• The name is based on a Greek myth that speaks of a nymph named Amethyst who was inadvertently turned into white stone; in remorse, the Greek god Bacchus poured wine over her to turn her a beautiful purple.

• The amethyst was thought to prevent intoxication and keep its wearer thinking sharply. It was worn by English royalty in the Middle Ages.

Quiz answers

1. C., February 4, 1789. Congress certified the vote on April 6. Washington took the oath of office on April 30.

2. A., Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61). The poem, titled “How Do I Love Thee?,” is Sonnet 43 in Browning’s book Sonnets From the Portuguese, which was dedicated to her husband, poet Robert Browning.

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