The Ancient Roman Rites that Gave Their Name to February: Explore the Forgotten Connection

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pine branches with snow on themThis month continues the series Longfellow called The Poet’s Calendar, written mostly in 1880. While writing about the days of February, he refers to something you might not have read: a six-book Latin poem on months and days by Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) “published” in the year 8. This source tells more about the seasonal custom of purifying the earth and how pine branches were involved in the ancient, pre-Roman ritual that gave this month its name.

February

I am lustration, and the sea is mine!
I wash the sands and headlands with my tide;
My brow is crowned with branches of the pine; Read more

Admire a Crystal Forest with William Sharp

a close view of a twig covered by ice with other branches in the background

“Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure . . . But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry; . . . My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts . . . If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”

Charles Darwin

A Crystal Forest (1913)
by William Sharp Read more

Under a Blanket of Snow Lies the Unseen Conviction to Endure

the painting After the Sleet Storm ( 1915-6) by Tom Thomson
After the Sleet Storm (1915-16)
Tom Thomson

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger–something better, pushing right back.”

Albert Camus
Return to Tipasa (1954)