With the year off to a flying start, February welcomes you with its sweet embrace!
While it is the shortest month of the year, it hasn’t fallen short on surprising us with a shovel-load of curious (and sometimes smelly) facts, giant moments in history, and heartwarming holidays.
Look no further, as we bring you a dose of fascinating facts to warm you up.
Where Did February Come From
By now, our most avid readers will know the story behind the names of most months. February is a special one, though. Together with January, it was the last month added to the Roman calendar because winter back then was considered a ‘’monthless’’ period of time. Those cheeky Romans were onto something!
Nevertheless, February had a special place in the lives of the Romans. Its name comes from the latin februum, which means purification. Februatus was an ancient festival of purification, purging of evil spirits, and promoting health and fertility. The festivities took place on the 15th day of that month each year, thus giving the name of the month and of the god of purification, Februus.
The Anglo-Saxons have been slightly less poetic with their naming of the month. In the past, February was named kale-Monath, or cabbage month, bringing up images of peasants munching on smelly cabbage leaves in the bitter winters.
Luckily, nowadays we’re spared from this fate, but not from the one Shakespeare attached to this time of the year: the cold. ‘You have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness,’ he wrote in Much Ado About Nothing. I bet you never thought you could craft an insult out of a month – now you can, thanks to The Bard!
At The Book of Everyone, we’re nuts about gifts, especially about diving deep into the extraordinary stories behind common gifts and traditions. Take for example the teddy bear – one of the go-to gifts that lovers exchange on Valentine’s Day. But did you know that these fuzzy little fellas were born out of a hunting trip, a merciful US president, and a crafty family?
Everything began with a disappointing bear hunting trip for President Theodore Roosevelt in November 1902. Roosevelt had high hopes of shooting a bear himself. However, by the end of the trip his chances looked slim, so a member of his party found a bear, tied it to a tree, and offered to the President. Viewing it as completely unsportsmanlike, Teddy Roosevelt showed mercy and refused to shoot the bear.
The news of the merciful huntsman spread quickly across the country, and the story really picked up once the political cartoonist Clifford Berryman satirised the incident in one of his cartoons for the Washington Post. That very cartoon caught the attention of Morris and Rose Michtom who owned a sweet shop in Brooklyn.
The Michtoms decided to turn the cartoon bear into a stuffed toy to sell in their stores. The newly created ‘Teddy’s bear’ was dedicated to the president who had refused to shoot a bear. Morris Michtom even obtained President Roosevelt’s approval of the name and put the first bears on display on February 15, 1903. An instant hit, Teddy’s bears were then mass-produced, bringing joy to kids and adults for decades to come.
Sure, I didn’t expect something so cute as the teddy bear to have such a grizzly history, but it’s still an adorable story – and a great opportunity for a new holiday! In the spirit of President Roosevelt, why not start a new tradition and dedicate a teddy to someone you love this year?
Upcoming Fascinating February Events
Speaking of curious traditions, there will be plenty more bizarre and fabulous occasions to put your party hat on, especially if you’re on a personal mission, like me, to avoid Valentine’s Day.
For one, I will be celebrating Groundhog Day on February 2. A North American tradition that rose to global fame thanks to the Bill Murray classic from 1993 Groundhog Day. This holiday observed in the US and Canada stems from an old belief that if a groundhog doesn’t see his shadow on February 2, spring will arrive early. However, if he does see his shadow, winter will continue for six more weeks.
While scientists haven’t found a correlation between a cute rodent spotting its shadow and the changing of the seasons, I cannot help but get sucked into that holiday, if only just to watch Groundhog Day again for the 17th time.
Later on in the month you can continue ignoring the Cupid Craze with Galentine’s Day on February 13th. Join us in the celebrations and shower your girl gang with the love and appreciation they deserve. Just don’t get them any overpriced chocolate. Why not a new Wise(ish) Words book instead?
And as a final respite from Valentine’s on February 14th, consider a special holiday from my home country, Bulgaria. On this day we celebrate St. Trifon, the patron saint of winemakers and gardeners, naturally, by indulging in copious amounts of wine and celebrating life. You’re welcome.
So there you have it – February in its full, magnificent, awe-inspiring glory. Armed with those fascinating facts, you are ready to face a month of red hearts and cheesy cards and to spend the month in a more unusual way – munching on a cabbage, with your eyes peeled on a sleepy rodent with a glass of wine in hand. Or maybe that’s just me.
Oh, and if you have a birthday coming up this February we have the perfect gift. Check out our range of personalised books, perfect for anyone and everyone.