February was a grim time in ancient Rome, with those bloody thongs, the marriage ban, and all the temples closed. And now we’re stuck with our month name, from februa – which not only means purification but also purging.
Until Julius Caesar made everyone in the Roman Empire use his calendar, the ancient Celts had a better name for this time of year. From engravings on a bronze tablet found in Coligny, France, in 1897, we know they called this January-February time Anagantio: “stay at home time” in Gaulish.
Much better than running around naked.