February. It is generally known that Numa Pompilius altered the Roman calendar, by adding two months (January and February) to the year, and, also, that ha assigned twenty-nine days to the latter. Julius Cesar did not make any alteration in the calendar of Numa, but Augustus Cesar subtracted one day from February and added it to his own month of August. Every fourth year an additional or twenty-ninth day was intercalated between the twenty-third and twenty-fourth of this month, and was unnoticed ; but now the intercalated day occurs every fourth or leap year, and is placed after the twenty-eighth ; it is therefore the 29th or last day of February. Every leap-year is readily discovered by dividing the year by four; and if there is no remainder, as in 1852, then February contains twenty-nine days, but if there is a remainder, as in 1854, the month only contains twenty-eight days.
The Saxons called this month Sprout Kale, or the month in which young cole-worts or cabbages begin to sprout; but it was afterwards called Sol Monath, or sun month, because the sun returns and warns us of the approach of spring, with its fresh vegetation and balmy aits. In Latin, it is called Februarius ; in French, Fevrier; in Italian, Febrojo; and in Portuguese, Fevereiro.
The usual allegorical representation of the month is a young man dressed in a dark or cloudy sky-coloured habit, symbolical of the frequent rain and gloomy sky. On his left is the astronomical sign of Pisces, or the fishes, to intimate that the sun enters that sign on the 19th of the month. February has been represented as a young man dressed in a white robe, with a wreath of snowdrops round his brows, and a burning candle in his right hand. Our Saxon ancestors painted this month as a vine-dresser pruning his trees; and, sometimes, as a man in a frieze-jacket buttoned close up to the throat, throwing his arms across his body, the same as we frequently observe Cabmen and others at this time of the year, when the weather is very inclement.
The month of February, though generally of a cheerless and uninspiring character, has not been without its muse. The bard of the "Shepherd's Calendar" thus pours forth his effusions : "The sunbeams on the hedges lie,
Around the elder-skirted croft; A calm of pleasure listens round, And almost whispers winterly; While fancy dreams of summer's sound, • And quiet rapture fills the eye."
The red-letter days of February, or its feasts, fasts, and festivals, are tolerably numerous and remarkable. In addition, we have days rendered memorable by certain events chronicled by the antiquary and historian with due care.
2nd. Candlemas Bay. - This day is called thus on account of its being celebrated in this and Roman Catholic countries with proccssiions by torchlight, and the performance of mass afterwards. It commemorates the attendance of the Virgin Mary in the temple, forty days after the birth of our saviour, and it is in consequence frequently called the Day of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. The Germans say - the badger peeps out of his hole on Candlemas-day, and if he finds snow he walks abroad ; if he sees the sun shining, he draws back again. Probably the saying, that " if Candlemas be a shining day, the winter is not half finished," may have arisen from the notion of the Germans. In 1300, upon this day, Pope Boniface VIII. instituted the jubilees in the Romish Church. In 1461, Edward, Earl of March, defeated the forces of Henry VI., under the command of the Earl of Pembroke, at Mortimer's Cross, near Ludlow, and Owen Tudor, Prince of Wales, was beheaded on the spot. In 1625, Charles I. was crowned in Westminster Abbey, with his queen, Henrietta Maria, by Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury. On this day, Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., the celebrated poet died, leaving the British nation his beautiful compositions as a memento. The many varied and beautiful poems he composed rank foremost among the best productions of modern poets. 3rd. St Blaise is the patron saint of the wool-combers. He was a bishop of Sebaste, in Armenia, who suffered martyrdom under Diocletian, 289.
5th. St. Agatha was a female martyr of Sicily, put to death by order of Decius, in 251.
16. In 1497, the celebrated divine, Philip Melancthon, the coadjutor of Martin Luther in the great work of the Reformation of the Christian Church, was born in the small town of Brethen or Bretheim, in the Palatinate of the Rhine. He was appointed by the general body of the Reformers, in the early part of 1530, to draw up the exposition of their opinions, which was pre sented to the Emperor at Augsburg in March of the same year; and is well known as the " Confession of Augsburg."
22d. In 1732 George Washington was born in Westmoreland, in the State of Virginia. In 1759 he married Mrs. Martha Curtis. He was appointed one of the delegates from Virginia to the first general Congress, in 1774. He became Commander-in-Chief of the American army on the 15th of June, 1775, and resigned his command at the close of the year 1783. He was inaugurated as the first President of the United States on the 30th of April, 1789. lie retired from public life in 1796, and died on the 14th of December, 1799, eaving a reputation without a stain.
28th. Shrove Tuesday is the day previous to the beginning of Lent. In Venice and Rome, the carnival ceases on this day. The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Scrifan, to confess, and signifies the time of confessing sins ; for which purpose this day was anciently set apart by the Church of Rome as a preparation for the austerities of Lent. After the people had confessed, they were permitted to indulge in festive amusements, and hence arose the custom, yet preserved, of eating pancakes and fritters at Shrovetide, which has given this day the vulgar appellation of Pancake Tuesday. To the pastimes of this day may be traced the nearly exploded diversions of cock-fighting and cock-throwing, whipping-tops, Jack of Lent, etc.
St. Valentine's Bay falls on the 14th of this month. St. Valentine was an ancient presbyter of the Church of Rome, who was beheaded in the Via Flaminia, about the year 278, during the reign of the Emperor Valerianus. This is the day for choosing patron saints in Rome, and lady loves in America. Well does the poor postman remember this day, and how eagerly the anonymous letters he bears are snatched from his hands and perused in the quiet chamber.