February gets its name from the word februare, meaning "to purify." This is likely due to the fact that February was the traditional month of cleansing in Rome, when people repented of holiday excesses. The official day for focusing on purification is February 15. (I suspect the ancient cure for hangovers, onion juice, saw a lot of use this day). This cleansing theme also explains the prevalence of water-themed celebrations during this month, along with festivals for the dead.
Source: 365 Goddess
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