February was named for the Roman god Februus, the god of purification. January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. This change was made by Numa Pompilius about 700 BC in order to bring the calendar in line with a standard lunar year. Numa’s Februarius contained 29 days (30 in a leap year). Augustus is alleged to have removed one day from February and added it to August, (renamed from Sextilis to honor himself), so that Julius Caesar’s July would not contain more days. However there is little historical evidence to support this claim.
February was nominally the last month of the Roman calendar, as the year originally began in March. At certain intervals Roman priests inserted an intercalary month, Mercedonius, after February to realign the year with the seasons.
Historical names for February include the Anglo-Saxon terms Solmoneth (mud month) and Kale-monath (named for cabbage) as well as Charlemagne’s designation Hornung. In old Japanese calendar, the month is called Kisaragi (å¦‚æœˆ, çµ¹æ›´æœˆ or è¡£æ›´æœˆ). It is sometimes also called Mumetsuki (æ¢…è¦‹æœˆ) or Konometsuki (æœ¨ç›®æœˆ). In Finnish, the month is called helmikuu, meaning “month of the pearl”.
“February” is pronounced without the first r, as “Febuary”, by many speakers. This is probably elision, or an analogical change influenced by “January”.