February plays host to Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, National Tooth Fairy Day, and every four years, Leap Day. In recent years, February has become home to the Super Bowl, but that honor may be ceded to March the way NFL seasons keep expanding.
The month’s name comes from the Latin word februum, which means purification. On February 15, ancient Romans celebrated a ritual of purification in preparation of spring.
By the way, if you’re planning ahead, there will be NO Leap Day in 2100. Why? To keep our Gregorian calendar straight, Leap Days are skipped three times every 400 years.
Born in February
Thomas Edison, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ronald Reagan, Yoko Ono, George Harrison, George Washington, Farrah Fawcett, Abraham Lincoln, Alice Cooper, Clark Gable, Rosa Parks, Shelley Berman, Joe Pesci, Aaron Burr, John Travolta, Galileo Galilei, Carrot Top, Charles Dickens, Steve Jobs, Axl Rose, Michael Jordan, Charles Lindbergh, Victor Hugo, Johnny Cash, Nicolas Copernicus and Fats Domino.
Died in February
Sid Vicious, Karen Carpenter, Woodrow Wilson, Waylon Jennings, Boris Karloff, Patty Hearst, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Alex Haley, Josef Mengele, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, St. Valentine, Sylvia Plath, Geronimo, Andy Warhol, Moliere, Michelangelo, Martin Luther, Malcolm X, Hunter S. Thompson, John Keats, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Ethel Merman, John Quincy Adams, Kublai Khan, Don Knotts and Peter the Great.
History in February
- 1929: The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, right here in Chicago.
- 1923: King Tut’s tomb unsealed.
- 1849: Matthew Brady takes the first photograph of a U.S. president in office (James Polk).
- 1692: Salem witch hunt begins.
- 1962: Astronaut John Glenn is first American to orbit the earth.
- 1919: United Parcel Service goes into business.
- 1977: Fleetwood Mac releases Rumours.
- 399: Socrates sentenced to death.
- 1896: Tootsie Rolls go on the market.
- 1904: Premiere of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in Milan.
- 1876: Sardines are first canned (in Maine).
- 1931: New Delhi becomes the capital of India.
Quotes about February
“I miss everything about Chicago except January and February.” — Gary Cole
“The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within.” — William C. Bryant
Scene from “Groundhog Day”