My Blog List

People I Know

Eclectic Folks

Media Blogs

Politics, Policy Blogs

Page Rank

Check Page Rank of your Web site pages instantly:

This page rank checking tool is powered by Page Rank Checker service

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

F is for February

Amethyst, the February birthstone















Generally, when I do one of these ABC Wednesday things, I want to convey info that either I don't think the reader knows, information *I* don't know (or have forgotten), or possibly both. So what about February conveys that? certainly not Valentine's Day. Black History Month is too broad. So after even more filtering, I came up with these questions.

What, or who, is February named for? I know that September-December are designated by the 7th through 10th prefixes. July and August are named for the Caesars Julius and Augustus. January, March, May and June come from various Roman and Greek gods, Janus, Mars, Maia, and Juno, respectively. April has something to do with the word open, possibly the same root as Oster/Easter, and/or for a variation on the goddess Aphrodite.

But what of February? The Wikipedia notes: February was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 in the old Roman calendar.

OK. So why is it poor February that gets to be 28 days some years and 29 on others? This is something I used to know: February used to be the last month, and so would be the month that would be lengthened or shortened to make the calendar work out. "January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period."

Did you know that the year 1900 was not a leap year and that 2100, 2200 and 2300 will NOT be leap years?
"In the Gregorian calendar, the calendar used by most modern countries, the following three criteria determine which years will be leap years:
1. Every year that is evenly divisible by four is a leap year;
2. of those years, if it can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless
3. the year is evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year."
So, all of you who will be around in the year 2100, remember that. Expect many misprinted calendars and confused computers.

Why the heck is February so often mispronounced Febuary? The answer: "Although the variant pronunciation (fĕb'yū-ĕr'ē) is often censured because it doesn't reflect the spelling of the word, it is quite common in educated speech and is generally considered acceptable. [It IS?] The loss of the first r in this pronunciation can be accounted for by the phonological process known as dissimilation, by which similar sounds in a word tend to become less similar. In the case of February, the loss of the first r is also owing to the influence of January, which has only one r." Other examples given: "beserk" for berserk, "supprise" for surprise, "paticular" for particular, and "govenor" for governor. But they left out the most important examples: "libary" for library, and "libarian" for librarian.

A pop song about when "the music died", of course, is American Pie, which has this lovely couplet:
"But February made me shiver With every paper I'd deliver."

Here's the poem February by Margaret Atwood, which ends: "Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring." Amen to THAT!


ROG

36 comments:

Jedediah said...

I learned something new here...winter as a monthless period has some appeal, I think. And I'm guilty of saying Febuary, but never libarian ;)

SparkleFarkle said...

What a wonderful slew of "F" knowledge! (Atwood's poem: superb! I enjoy reading her books, too. Actually, I have been known to deep-breathe them in. LOL!)

Your MckLinky directive ("F is For a Fickle Time Period") could easily be the title of MY TODAY'S "F" BLOG! Great minds, I guess--LOL!

Sylvia K said...

I always learn something new from your posts -- a great variety of things. Thanks for all the F words! Hope your week is going well! Enjoy!

Sylvia

Amy said...

Roger, Another very informative post. I've always felt a little sad for people who are born during a leap year - but I guess you can celebrate any old time? But not in 2100!

RuneE said...

Nice to see a post that is always a bit different - spice in the ABC-pudding.

anthonynorth said...

Great information this week. And enjoyable.

photowannabe said...

Great info that I had forgotten. Thanks for waking my brain up again.

Paula Scott said...

Whoo! Another fascinating post! Thoroughly enjoyed it! Thanks!

Leslie: said...

I'm fatigued today so that was a workout for me to read and absorb all that information. But it was worth it. Thanks, Roger.

jabblog said...

Interesting F post. Some children I taught always referred to the 'liberry' and pronounced and spelt it that way.

Sara Katt said...

Meow to that!
Purrs,
Sara Cat

http://sarakatt.blogspot.com/2010/02/abc-wednesday-f-as-in-feline-abc-onsdag.html#links

Mara said...

That's the good thing about Dutch, you do pronounce the R properly. Great information though. As usual...

Manang Kim said...

I love the color!

F is Family

Stan Ski said...

Great explanations - Factual and Fun.

Beverley Baird said...

Love your posts - so much information!
I didn't know much about February - now I do! Thanks.

Tumblewords: said...

Timely February! That's a gorgeous amethyst.

Jama said...

That is a a very beautiful color!

LeAnn * ~ See Great Things said...

Very good, and so beautiful!

ShAKirA CHOONG said...

I have forgotten that
Amethyst is the birth stone for February.
WOW.
Thank you for bringing that back.
I love the history too.
A lot of thoughts went with this.
Bravo!

Fantastic F!

Happy ABC Wednesday!

hugs
shakira

http://justmeshakirack.blogspot.com/2010/02/f-is-for-fantastic-friends-from.html

Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

February is the month that always seems longer than others despite being shorter - at least in these Northern climes.

lv2scpbk said...

That's a good post. An "F" for ABC was right in front of me and I didn't see it.

Sara Katt said...

Thank you for visiting and commenting on my F-post!
Purrs,
Sara Cat

wenn said...

great poem!

Gattina said...

I love amethysts ! In German and French you also pronounce the r in Februar and février !

Kate said...

Perfect choice for February, and, as usual, FULL of FABULOUS FACTS!

Monika said...

nice info roger

Joy said...

The Romans were right winter is a month-less period, so cancel them immediately so I can hibernate. Interesting post, and thank you so much for the Atwood poem. I did not know she wrote poetry (doh), is there no end to her talent.

LisaF said...

Your leap from (F)ebruary to amethyst made me smile! Loved reading your post.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

I looked up the derivations of both months and days recently, but I failed to focus on February, or I forgot.

Serline said...

Thanks for all the information and stopping by my place.

Have a great week!

Gordon said...

Another post full of interesting facts; a nice read.

Irene said...

Roger, the way you come at February, full of angles, you're incredible!

Troy said...

As a preschooler, my favorite joke, told over and over to whomever would listen, went something like this:

Me: Can February march?

Victim: I don't know, can it?

Me: No, but April may.

How sad that I can't remember where I put my car keys an hour ago, but I still remember that, after all these years...

Spiderdama said...

That a great F post!:-)

jay said...

I really enjoyed this post! And yes, I did learn something new! I've often pondered the fact that most months are numerical or named after gods, goddesses or emperors yet April and February defy categorisation, but not enough to go and find out. Thanks for doing the leg work!

Over here, there are two mispronunciation which are 'acceptable': 'Febuary' and 'Febroo-y'. February is a difficult word to pronounce properly, and people get lazy. C'est la vie!

Elaine said...

Roger....Really loved your facts about February....fascinating really!