February Is Her Name

BIG LITTLE PEOPLE - Grace Chong (The Freeman) - February 8, 2015 - 12:00am

There is a girl named February – probably the only person on earth named such. She wants to be called Febe, instead of February.

Nobody knows her real name, except her parents and close relatives, of course. And now, also her grade school principal, who had read her birth certificate.

“Why don’t you want to be called February?” she asked.

“Because I wasn’t born in February! I was born in November.” 

“Would you rather be called November, then?” she smiled.

“Yes,” she said.  “But Febe is okay.”

***

Now, why would Febe’s parents name her February when she was born in November?

Her mom said, “My husband and I met on February 14, Valentine’s Day. It was an unforgettable day for both of us. February is called the love month – our Febe reminds us of love.”

Every February 14 (exactly six days from now), in many parts of the world, flowers, cards, gifts, and other goodies are exchanged between and among loved ones, in the name of St. Valentine.

***

Who’s St. Valentine? There are various legends about him, but this one seems to be the most interesting:

Long, long ago, Valentine, a priest of Rome, was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.

In jail, Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer. Before he was executed, he wrote his jailer’s daughter a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

Many countries, including the Philippines, celebrate St. Valentine’s Day in February.  Why February? Let’s take a look at how the name February came to be.

***

The original Roman calendar only had ten months. In 700 BC, the second king of Rome, Noma Pompilius, added January and February to the end of the calendar so that one year has the same length as the time the Earth takes to go around the Sun.

The two new months were both originally 28 days long. Somewhere along the way, January acquired more days and February got less.

Just like Valentine’s Day, the name February has many legends and myths on how it came to be so short. Today, we don’t know for sure what is true or not. 

But the word February comes from the Latin word februa, meaning “to cleanse.” This was a Roman festival of purification or Februalia. It was a month when people were ritually washed to be forgiven of their sins.

***

The month February in the Philippines is festive. People get busy shopping or planning parties. Also, restaurants are filled, flower shops sell a lot of flowers, chocolates flood the stores, and Valentine’s cards are either bought or made and given away.

“Everybody celebrates your name!” Febe’s school principal said when the calendar hit   February.

“But it is not my birthday!” Febe insisted.

“My name is Doreen and nobody celebrates it,” the principal explained. “You’re blessed to have a name that is celebrated by everyone.”

“Really?” Febe said and beamed. After a long pause, she announced, “My name is February.”

Email me at gdchong@gmail.com or visit my blogsite www.leaves ofgrace.blogspot.com.

BECAUSE I BUT FEBE EVERY FEBRUARY FEBE JANUARY AND FEBRUARY NAME NOMA POMPILIUS ST. VALENTINE VALENTINE
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