The name February comes from 'Februa,' the Roman feast of
purification. For years it was the last month of the year. Now it is the
Every four years February has an extra day added to its 28. This is
because the full year, that is, time taken by the earth to go round the
Sun, is 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes and 40 seconds. At the end of
four years these hours and minutes added up to 24. These extra 24 hours
were given to February once in four years to make up for its short
allowance of 28 days.
February is a very special month to us Sri Lankans. It was on
February 4, 1948 that Ceylon, by which name our country was known then,
became an independent country.
From March 1815, until February 1948 our country was a colony of the
British Empire. The day Ceylon became an independent Dominian such as
Australia and Canada. However, the monarch of England (King George VI
and from 1952 Queen Elizabeth) was Head of State. He/She was represented
by a Governor-General. The first Governor-General was Lord Soulbury and
the first Prime Minister was D.S. Senanayake.
In the Sinhala calendar, this month is Navam, the 11 month of the
year. The Navam Perahera is an outstanding event of this month. It is
conducted every year by the Gangarama Vihara in Kollupitiya.
February 14 is St. Valentine's Day, a day looked forward to by young
folk, when they send greeting cards with a verse or verses appropriate
to the sender. This practice of sending cards reached its height in
England and America in the latter part of the 19th century. In Sri Lanka
it started in the 1990s.
What is St. Valentine's connection with these cards?
St. Valentine was a Roman priest who was put to death on or about
February 14, 270 AD, because he refused to pay tribute to the Pagan
gods. The date of his death almost coincided with that of the Roman
feast of the Lupercalia when youth chose by lot their sweethearts for
the following year. Lovers in England and elsewhere adopted this
practice and started sending greeting cards called Valentines.