February is for purification, protection, prosperity & inspired anticipation. Call it Februa, Feverell, Februeer, although short on time, February is crammed pack with a never-ending & far-reaching plethora of symbolism & tradition, reminding us all that opportunity & abundance are just right around the corner.
February 1st. St. Brigid’s Day, celebrated on February 1st, is an Irish holiday commemorating Irish nun, St. Brigid of Kildare, Ireland. Others say that Brigid the Catholic nun never existed, rather was a character made up to Christianize the ancient Celtic goddess, Brigid. Brigid’s Day is also synonymous with Imbolc, an ancient Celtic festival day marking the midpoint of winter. Imbolc is celebrated between February 1st through 4th, during the full moon or when the primroses and other spring flowers begin to emerge.
The first days of February is a time of preparation and optimism. Whichever version Brigid’s/Imbolc day you choose to follow, it’s all about cleansing away the old to make way for the new. Candles and bonfires are lit, representing the purifying powers of fire. Predictions are made as to how many more days of winter remain in hopes of getting a glimpse at an early spring. Coins are left at holy wells along with prayers, offered in exchange for blessings. Spring cleaning rituals take place, clearing out old foliage and making way for new seeds to be planted.
- The primrose is symbolic of youth, protection & otherworldly portals.
- The word “primrose” is from a Latin term meaning “first rose.” They color the Irish countryside from late winter to late spring.
- Old Irish myth claims that primroses bloomed in Tír na nÓg, land of eternal youth.
- Primroses placed on one’s doorstep was thought to bring blessings from faeries to all who lived there. Ancient Celts associated large patches of primroses with entryways into faerie realms.
- In England, the primrose is called the “key flower.” It’s also referred to as “Herb Peter,” keys being a symbol of St. Peter. According to Norse legend, the primrose was the sacred flower of Freya, the goddess of love, who was also known as the “key virgin.”
February 2nd. Candlemas Day is celebrated on the last, or fortieth, day of Christmas, which begins with the Nativity of Our Lord on December 25th and ends with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary on February 2nd. Candlemas symbolizes the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, the fortieth day after Christ’s birth. All church candles are blessed, the candles being representative of Jesus, the Light of the World, the Lord of the Light.
Candlemas is also referred to as the Christian version of the Feast of Lights or Festival of Lights. In days of past, there was of course no electricity and candles provided not only light but also protection, a reassurance in the darkness, like Christ, enlightening a dark world. The February 2nd Festival of Lights also commemorated the halfway point between the shortest day of the year, December 21st and spring equinox, March 20th, representing the passage of winter and the anticipation of spring.
The foretaste of spring also brought forth prognosticators of weather divination, eagerly anticipating a short winter. The Germans and Dutch brought this idea with them to the New World, and that’s how America ended up with weather prophet extraordinaire, Punxsutawney Phil. When the groundhog emerges from his winter quarters on Groundhog Day, if he sees his shadow, we can count on another six weeks of winter. In other words, a sunny February portends a long winter.
February 14th & 15th. To the Romans, “Februa” signalled the coming of springtime, a festive and ritualistic occasion of cleansing and preparing for the upcoming fresh new season. Referred to as Lupercalia, the ancient Roman holiday was observed on the Ides of February, the 15th, in the Lupercal Cave in the heart of Rome. It was a holiday dedicated to the Roman goddess of fertility, and the ceremonial feast was intended to avert evil, attract abundance and purify the city.
Despite these good intentions, in the 3rd century AD, Emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine, on February 14th. Both Valentines became martyrs of the Catholic Church, leading to the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. Others claim that in the 5th century, Pope Gelasius proclaimed February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day merely as a way to Christianize the pagan celebration of Lupercalia.
In keeping with the ancient Roman theme, much later, during the Middle Ages, the customary view in much of Europe was that February 14th was the official beginning of the birds’ mating season. This securely linked Valentine’s Day to romance, and, ironically enough, to the Lupercalian idea of celebrating fertility.
- Amethyst represents protection, purification, power & prosperity.
- Amethyst is a crystalline quartz which gets is purplish color from the iron & aluminum present during formation.
- The word “amethyst” is derived from a Greek word meaning “without drunkenness” & is believed to be beneficial in overcoming addictions & chemical dependency. Amethyst crystal is used to keep the air in one’s home clean & positive.
- Being a fairly hard stone, a 7 on the Mohs scale, amethyst is considered a power & protection stone.
- The Amethyst crystal is historically tied to royalty, luxury & wealth. It was placed in the crowns & rings of kings. Amethyst was worn by priests & bishops, symbolizing piety & Christian allegiance. It was one of the 12 stones worn in the breastplate of the high priest Aaron.
Fat Tuesday & Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday, also called Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Carnival or Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”), is a day of feasting before the Catholic Lent fasting period. The specific date can vary from as early as February 3rd to as late as March 9th. The day was originally intended to commemorate the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent which is 40 days, but Sunday cannot be a fast day so Sundays aren’t counted in Lent. For this reason, the Lent period lasts 46 days, beginning Ash Wednesday and ending Easter Sunday. The 40 days of fasting include: six days a week for six weeks (36 days), plus Ash Wednesday, plus the Thursday, Friday and Saturday (4 days) preceding Easter Sunday, totaling 40 days of fasting. The reason the period varies by date is because Easter Sunday is dependent upon the spring equinox full moon date. Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after spring equinox.
The word “Lent” is derived from the Old English word, “lencten,” the Old Dutch, “lente” and Old German, “lenz”, all meaning “spring.” Additionally, in Old German, the words “lenzin,” “lengizin” and “lenzo” all come from the same root word meaning “long,” most likely referring to the lengthening of days, as the earth moves closer to the sun, approaching spring equinox.
Winter was considered a time dominated by the winter spirits and so, in order for spring to arrive, these spirits had to first be expelled. Shrovetide in England, or Carnival in Southern Europe, was regarded as an initiatory ritual, celebrating the passage from winter to spring, from darkness to light. It was a celebration of fertility, the first spring festival of the year, when the winter stockpiles were cooked up and eaten in order to make way for the new spring inventory.
February 29th. Leap Year Day is a rarity, occurring every four years (roughly), so its peculiarity imparts a certain distinction, with some proclaiming it unlucky to be born on this day and others stating that any venture began on February 29th is bound to success. Purportedly, Old English law did not recognize the day. With it being “leapt” right over, women had the “right” to propose marriage. With February 29th lacking legal status, it was okay to break tradition on that one unique day.
Legally binding or not, Leap Year days are a necessity because a year is not really comprised 365 days but actually 365.242 days. To account for this slight discrepancy, every 4th year, the ones divisible by 4, we add an extra day, with the exception of century years. For example, 1900 was not a leap year nor will 2100 be a leap year. (However 1600 and 2000 were leap years. Whew! Confusing!)
February- The month of festivity. Julius Caesar, the Father of Leap Year, devised the leap year calendar to keep Roman ceremonies in sync with their proper seasons. February is a month to take account, to regroup, to focus on upcoming events and take appropriate measures. February is a time for stabilizing and renewal, out with the old and in with the new. February is about novel ventures, faith in opportunity and gratitude for all blessings, past and future.
February symbolizes the return of the Light which provides us life, protection, hope and inspiration. February reminds us that we are all part of a much larger system. Our optimal well-being results from truly getting in touch with the natural and perpetual rhythms, as well as with our ancestors, who not only depended upon these cycles, but also respected them deeply. February signals a time to get ready because abundance is on the way!