February Interesting Facts
February is the only month of the year where there can pass without having a full moon. Since the average time between full moons is 29 1/2 days and February only has 28 days (most years!) there are years, like 2018, where a full moon does not fall in February.
February has officially been celebrated as African American History Month since 1976. Prior to 1976 African American History was celebrated the second week of February, which encompassed President Lincoln's and Frederick Douglas's birthday. This week was first celebrated in 1926.
February Holidays and Observances
On Sunday, February 2nd Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his hibernation to forecast the weather by looking for his shadow. Groundhog Day tradition states that if Phil sees his shadow we are in for 6 more weeks of Winter; however, if he does not see his shadow, we will see an early Spring!
Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th, this year falling on a Friday. Known as a day of love, Valentine’s Day is a day where people around the world express their love for their family, friends and significant others. The oldest known valentine still in existence today is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned.
Monday, February 17th is Presidents' Day. Presidents' Day initially was a celebration of George Washington's birthday which fell on February 22nd but was moved to the third Monday of February in 1971 as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt at creating more 3-day weekends for the nation’s workers. Presidents' Day is now a day of patriotic celebration and remembrance.
150 years ago on February 3, 1870 the 15th Amendment was ratified. The 15th Amendment prohibits the federal government and each state from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." At the time the 15th Amendment was ratified it gave African American males the ability to vote, women (of all races) would not be able to vote for 50 more years.
From the Almanac
Most people know what a leap year, or a leap day, is, but do you know how it came to be? The need for a leap year came about when Julius Caesar and astronomer Sosigenes created the Julian calendar in 46 BC. The Julian calendar changed the calendar of the time to include 12 months in a year and 365 days. To take into account that the Earth's solar year (actual orbit around the Sun) is actually 365.2425 days, they added in an extra day every 4 years to keep up with the Solar year.
This was a great fix to the previous Roman method of adding an extra month in every so often but by the 16th Century the calendar was already off by 10 days. To counter act this, Pope Gregory XIII instituted the Gregorian calendar. This calendar has leap days every 4 years except for years evenly divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400. For example:
2000 was a leap year because 2000 divided by 100 is 20 and 2000 divided by 400 is 5.
2100 will not be a leap year because 2100 divided by 100 is 21 but 2100 divided by 400 is 5.25.
The Gregorian calendar is off by 26 seconds in relation to the solar year. This means that while it is much better than the Julian calendar, it still is not perfect. In fact, in 4049 there will be a 1 day discrepancy.
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