The second month of the year we know as February. Along with January it is the other month that was not a part of the original Roman calendar which consisted of only 10 months. February is also the shortest month of the year and was so even when it was added to the calendar, however at that time seven other months in the Roman Calender held less than 30 days; Jan, Apr, Jun, Aug (Sextilis) Sep, Nov and Dec, all contained 29 days. There were also times when the day count for February was reduced even more, in some cases leaving only 23 days. This was to allow a filler month called Intercalaris to re-align the seasons. This was eventually abandoned and the use of a leap year helped to keep the calendar on track.
February is notably a month of festivity. The Latin februum held an idea of purity or sanctification, being related to the Roman ritual of purification called Februa which was held around the Ides of February (13th) . During the middle ages, as the church prepared for Lent, celebrations were held to have a little fun before the season of fasting. This became known as Carnival and inspired several traditions one of which is Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins.
The picture above is another scene from the Tres Riches: Book of Hours. Like the picture from January, it presents a scene for the month in the middle ages. It is the only month in this book of hours that shows snow. There are some very interesting contrasts in this picture which may have something to do with contradicting traditions of the month; which are celebration and fasting. The sheep are all under the covering of shelter while the wild birds outside are eating. People outside are working and/or playing. Grey skies in the distance, and bare winter trees certainly give the feel of a midwinter month. The Lady in the house on the left has her dress pulled up to her knees while the men are partially exposed, probably trying to dry their leggings and warm up from the winter cold.
Feasts during January from the General Roman Calendar are:
2. Presentation of the Lord, Feast
3. Blaise; Ansgar, Opt. Mem.
5. Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
6. Paul Miki and Companions, Memorial
8. Jerome Emiliani; Josephine Bakhita, Opt. Mem.
10. Scholastica, Memorial
11. Our Lady of Lourdes, Opt. Mem.
12. Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
14. Cyril and Methodius, Memorial
17. Seven Founders of the Orders of Servites, Opt. Mem.
19. Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
21. Peter Damian; Fat Tuesday, Opt. Mem.
22. Ash Wednesday
23. Polycarp of Smyrna, Memorial
26. First Sunday of Lent, Sunday