February is the second month of the year. It is also the shortest month.The name was derived from the Latin word 'februa,' signifying the festivals of purification celebrated in ancient Rome during this month.
February was originally 29 days long, but one day was later transferred to the month of August. According to tradition, the Roman emperor Augustus took one day off February to add to August, the month named after him. Today, February has 28 days in standard years and 29 in leap years. Leap years generally occur every four years.
Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
February has twenty eight alone
All the rest have thirty-one
Except in Leap Year, that's the time
When February's Days are twenty-nine
The Old English name for this month was solmonath, "mud-month," because the rain made the soil and the fields difficult for people to work in. Solmonath was also called "month of cakes", for the pagan people who made offerings to their gods. February also went by the Old English name “Kale-monath,” a reference to kale or cabbages, a vegetable whose frost resistance meant that it could be eaten even throughout the winter months.
February's moon was known as the 'Full Snow Moon' as in certain parts of the world, the heaviest snow usually falls during this month. Hunting becomes very difficult, and hence to some tribes this was also known as the 'Full Hunger Moon.'
The flower for February is the Violet or Primrose.
Most people are familiar with Sweet Violet - 'Viola odorata' Also known as the English violet or common violet. There are around 500 known species of violet. Sweet violets are widely adapted perennials that have a delicate fragrance and taste. The Violets are fairly common in hedgebanks and shady places. Much cultivated in gardens and also found in wooded areas.
Sweet violets 'Viola odorata' can be candied or used in violet tea, violet cake, and violet syrup. While commonly added to salads, you can also use violet flowers to make vinegars, butters, spreads, and jellies. Sweet violet flowers are as beautiful as they are edible.
~ A little history ~
In the past sweet violet flowers were used quite extensively in cooking for their fragrance and decorative qualities. In the fourteenth century they were beaten into a ground rice pudding along with ground almonds - they still make a wonderful flavouring for rice puds today.
True Violets have been known for centuries with the ancient Greeks cultivating them about 500 BC or earlier. Both the Greeks and the Romans used Violets for all sorts of things such as for herbal remedies, and for wine 'Vinum Violatum'
The Ancient Greeks considered the Violet a symbol of fertility and love, they used it in love potions. Pliny recommended that a garland of violets be worn above the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells.
Gifting violets in the Victorian era conveyed the message 'I’ll always be true’.
~ Crystallised Sweet Violets ~
Pick the flowers, with the stems attached, and dip them first into beaten egg-white and then into a bowl of caster sugar. Using a small paintbrush, coat the difficult cavities - its important to cover every part with sugar to preserve the flower. Let the flowers dry for a few days on some greaseproof paper before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge. Use them to decorate cakes for special occasions.
February is also known for Groundhog’s Day, celebrated in the U.S. and Canada on the second day of the month. The holiday began as a Pennsylvania German custom, which stated that if a groundhog (in older European traditions, a badger or bear) emerged from his hole on February 2nd to find a cloudy day, he would leave his burrow and winter would soon end. If instead the sun caused him to see his shadow, he would supposedly be frightened and continue to hibernate for six more weeks of winter.
Get them frying pans out folks!
Pancake Day is on Tuesday, February 12th. Also known as "Shrove Tuesday" “Mardi Gras” or “Fat Tuesday” and is celebrated all over the world with merry-making and a lot of eating!
Valentine's Day or Saint Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14th by many people throughout the world.
The origins of Valentine's Day trace back to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. Held on February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility celebration. Lupercalia festivities included the pairing of young women and men. Men would draw women's names from a box, and each couple would be paired until next year's celebration.
Valentine's Day, originated during the third century in Rome. During this time, Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage for young men. A young priest named Valentine was furious with this injustice and defied the emperor and secretly performed marriage ceremonies. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14th.
After Valentine's death, he was named a saint. As Christianity spread through Rome, the priests moved Lupercalia from February 15th to February 14th and renamed it St. Valentine's Day to honour Saint Valentine.
Today, we continue to honour St. Valentine and recall the history of Valentine's Day each year on February 14th by celebrating our love for significant others, friends, and family.
Valentine's Day would not be complete without Cupid, the most recognized symbol of love. The name Cupid itself was derived from the Latin word "Cupido," meaning "desire". In Roman mythology Cupid is the son of Venus, goddess of love. His counterpart in Greek mythology is Eros, god of love. Cupid is often said to be a mischievous boy who goes around wounding both gods and humans with his arrows, causing them to fall in love.
Happy Valentines Day