Seven interesting titbits about the month of February

07/02/2020

Now that the history-making bad weather brought on by storm Gloria has cleared, people are stepping outside to enjoy the sunny weather of these first few days of February. But the temperatures are normally quite chilly around this time of year.

Apart from the cold weather we typically have in February, there are a number of interesting facts about the second month of the year you may not be aware of.

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Read on to find out!

Where does the word February even come from?

The name of the month derives from the Lain word februare, which in turn comes from februo, meaning to cleanse oneself. It seems that the Romans coined the term because of the rituals they performed to achieve purity.

This year, February has 29 days

It’s a leap year! This means February has one extra day, bringing the total number for 2020 to 366 instead of 365. This happens only once every four years.

The chances of being born on 29 February are 1 in 1,461

That’s right! This figure is calculated by adding up all the days over four years, including the extra day in leap year.

It is the only month that may not see a full moon

There may be no full moon in February. The rest of the months get to see this stage in the lunar cycle for at least one day.

Rare Disease Day

Rare Disease Day is celebrated on 29 February. Since rare diseases afflict only a small percentage of the population, this special day has been chosen to raise awareness for them. When it is not a leap year, Rare Disease Day is moved to 28 February.

Although rare diseases individually affect very few people, the figures add up quickly: there are over 7,000 diseases affecting a total of 7% of the world’s population.

29 February: an Irish tradition

Fifth-century legend tells of a complaint made by Saint Brigid of Kildare to Saint Patrick about how women had to wait too long to marry, as there were many men who could not muster up the courage to ask for their hand in marriage. Saint Patrick came up with a solution, deciding that women would henceforth be allowed to ask men to marry them on 29 February. When you think about it now, one day every four years is not much, but it was a significant decision given the context and strict laws of that era.

Parties and celebrations

Throughout February we celebrate Carnival, Valentine’s Day and other international events, such as Groundhog Day!

 

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