"Never know how much I love you
Never know how much I care
When you put your arms around me
I get a fever that's so hard to bear
You give me fever
When you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
Fever! in the morning
Fever all through the night..."
Fever! Peggy Lee's sultry voice will forever be connected with this sensuous song. Experience it for yourself via this YouTube video:
So what does Fever have to do with February? This month of groundhogs, Valentines, presidents, and civil rights activists, has a name we trace back to its Roman origins. It originally honored Februus, the god of purification, and marked the time of year when spring purification ceremonies were held. Spring? Spring? Did someone say Spring? Sounds to me like a little wishful thinking on the part of those ancient Romans...but perhaps spring came earlier there. Of course February 2nd was
Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow which means an early spring...except it was sunny here in Edenton, North Carolina--so does that mean our spring will be late? Sorry, I digress. Anyway, getting back to Februus--one means of purification is by fire and heat and thus Febris, goddess of fever, came to be. The heat of a fever does, in fact, help to purify by killing off infection which is why we are advised to not take steps to lower a fever unless the fever itself has gone so high it is, in itself, dangerous.
|Faun and Nymph, about 1615, Peter Paul Rubens|
Another celebration about the same time of year which included ritual purification was that of Lupercalia. That day honored the god Faun, so Faun and Februus were often thought of as the same being. Hmmm. Somehow I just don't usually connect Faun with purity. Lupercalia also honored the she-wolf who nursed the founders of Rome -- Romulus and Remus. Not sure how all that relates, but there you have it.
Februus's festival of purification, known as Februalia, fell on the 15th of the month. That means it's exactly one day following that traditional celebration of feverish romance, Valentine's Day. I shall say no more.
Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now!