How did February get its name?

February gets its name from the Latin word “februare,” which means “to purify” (in English, it became February).  The early Romans devoted this month to ceremonies of purification. February is the second month of the year—and the shortest.  February has 28 days, except in “leap years,” when it has 29 years.

In the early Roman calendar February was the last month of the year.  During this month, the Romans held religious rites to purify themselves for festivals held at the start of the new year.

Later, when Romans emperor Julius Caesar set up a new calendar, he moved the start of the year from March to January, February became the second month.

An old story tells (though there may be no truth in it), that when August Caesar’s month (July) longer than the one named after himself.  So he stole a day from February to make August 31 days, as long as July.–Dick Rogers

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