It has long been my feeling that April is not the cruelest month at all, apart from that tax thing that happens then — and who on earth let that get started? People, people. You know all that money is going straight to Texas. They don’t have state tax of their own, so obviously they must be lifting ours. Because if there’s one thing we know about Texans, oh don’t get me started.
February, that’s the cruelest month. Even in soft winters like this one, when the sun is apt to creep out and toss us an eight-ball of 60° weather when we aren’t watching for it, there’s something about the early dark and the trickling cold that never relents, that slips needy fangs in and keeps the flesh pinned to pale colors. The thin washed light, the hard chill, the way the covers on the bed just don’t want leaving. February.
The name comes from Februus, the Roman god of purification (sez the Wiki):
In Etruscan mythology, Februus was the god of the dead and purification. The month of February was named after him. He was also worshipped by the Romans, where he could have become Febris, god of malaria. In his honor, the Februalia festivity were held.
Presumably the malaria bit comes from the Latin febris = fever, which I’d call suspect, but I am a bit transported by the idea of a god of malaria.
Myrtle: Honey, it’s for you. It’s the god of malaria.
Ed: The god of malaria? What does he want?
Myrtle: I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him?
Ed: Well what did he say?
Myrtle: He said, “Bzzzzzz.”
The pre-Gregorian Romans had the right idea — their winter had no months. It was just winter. And after that it was March.