Thursday, 2 February 2012

February and Februation

Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what's the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
- Much Ado About Nothing

As we are now in February, you may as well know that this is the month of purification; specifically the Roman festival of purification or Februarius was held on the 15th.

Februa was the Latin for purification, and quite possibly derived from an older word for sulphur, making this sulphur-month. This means that February has some rather odd neighbours in the dictionary, such as februate, which means to purge souls by sacrifice or prayer.

Before this new-fangled Roman stuff came in, the Anglo-Saxons had a much apter name for the month. They called it Solmonath, or Mud-Month.

Mind you, the Venerable Bede called it the month of cakes, because apparently that's what pagans gave to their gods for a winter's snack.

The Inky Fool fondling an invisible cow


  1. I'll go with the month of cakes, I think.

  2. I was happy to go along with purification... February being the month when we've just about finished all the Christmas sweets and biscuits, but if there's cake...

  3. I've just examined my waistline, and I'm afraid I'm turning into a pagan god!