“In ancient Roman religion, Februus, whose name means “purifier”, was the god of purification. He was also worshipped under the same name by the Etruscans as the god of purification, and also the underworld. For the Etruscans, Februus was also the god of riches (money/gold) and death, both connected to the underworld in the same natural manner as with the better-known Roman God Pluto.
Februus may have become the Roman Febris, goddess of fever (febris in Latin means fever) and malaria. These are possibly connected with the sweating of fevers, which was considered a purgative, washing, and purification process.
Februus is possibly named in honor of the more ancient Februa (also Februalia and Februatio), the spring festival of washing and purification. Februus’ holy month was Februarius (of Februa), hence English February, a month named for the Februa/februalia spring purification festival which occurred on the 15th of that month.
These spring purification activities occurred at about the same time as Lupercalia, a Roman festival in honor of Faun and also the wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus, during which expiatory sacrifices and ritual purifications were also performed. Because of this coincidence, the two gods (Faun and Februus) were often considered the same entity.”-Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Februus
Februarius or February, fully the “February month” (Latin: mensis Februarius), was the shortest month of the Roman calendar. It was eventually placed second in order, preceded by Ianuarius (“January“) and followed by Martius (“Mars‘ month”, March). In the oldest Roman calendar, which the Romans believed to have been instituted by their legendary founder Romulus, March was the first month, and the calendar year had only ten months in all. Ianuarius and Februarius were supposed to have been added by Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, originally at the end of the year. It is unclear when the Romans reset the course of the year so that January and February came first.
Februarius was the only month in the pre-Julian calendar to have an even number of days, numbering 28. This was mathematically necessary to permit the year itself to have an odd number of days. Ancient sources derived Februarius from februum, a thing used for ritual purification. Most of the observances in this month concerned the dead or closure, reflecting the month’s original position at the end of the year. The Parentalia was a nine-day festival honoring the ancestors and propitiating the dead, while the Terminalia was a set of rituals pertaining to boundary stones that was probably also felt to reinforce the boundary of the year.
Many Roman festivals and religious observances reflect the Romans’ agrarian way of life in their early history. In his treatise on farming, Varro divides the agricultural year into eight phases, with Spring beginning officially on February 7, when Favonius the west wind was thought to start blowing favorably and it was time to ready the fields. The grain fields were to be weeded, vineyards tended, and old reeds burned. Some kinds of trees were pruned, and attention was given to olive and fruit trees.
The agricultural writer Columella says that meadows and grain fields are “purged” (purguntur), probably both in the practical sense of clearing away old debris and by means of ritual. The duties of February thus suggest the close bond between agriculture and religion in Roman culture. According to the farmers’ almanacs, the tutelary deity of the month was Neptune.
February had one and possibly two moveable feasts (feriae conceptivae). The Amburbium (“City Circuit”) was a purification of the whole city with no fixed date, but seems to have been held in February. The Fornacalia (“Oven Festival”) was celebrated by the thirty ancient divisions of the Roman people known as curiae. Each curia celebrated a festival separately under its own leader (curio) on various days following the Nones. These dates were established and publicized by the curio maximus, the chief curio. Anyone who missed the Fornacalia celebrated by his own curia, or who didn’t know his curia, could attend a public festival which was always held as the concluding ceremony on February 17. The Fornacalia overlapped with the festival of the ancestral dead that dominated the month, and on its last day coincided with the Quirinalia, a day also known as the Feast of Fools (feriae stultorum). Februarius was thus such a religiously complex month that during the Julian reform of the calendar, when days were added to some months, it was left as it had been, even though it was the shortest month.”
very interesting I love history and etymology.
This is a repost of a Wikipedia article.
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