「うるう年」を英語で言うと?「February」の発音、正しくできる?2月の由来や関連フレーズを知ろう【Small Talk】


Thoughts on February(2月について思うこと)

Short But Strange

Isn’t February the wackiest month of the year? For one thing, a lot of us have trouble even pronouncing it. Is that first “r” silent or not? In the United States, the most common pronunciation is likely “FEB-yoo-air-ee” – or even “FEB-yoo-wary,” but some dictionaries cite “FEB-roo-air-ee” as the more traditional standard. To add to the confusion, in certain British accents, that first “r” is there but the syllables are shortened to three, making it FEB-ruhr-ree. Argh! The good news is that no matter how you pronounce it, listeners are sure to understand you.

Another weird thing is how an additional day is added to the month every four years. Years in which this happens – including this year – are called leap years. In such a year, a given date advances by not one but two days of the week, “leapingover the usual day. For example, March 1 was a Wednesday last year, but it’s a Friday this year. So, why do we have leap years? It’s because our planet takes approximately 365.25 days to complete its orbit around the sun. Having an extra day every four years keeps our calendar synchronized with the astronomical year. This extra day ended up being added to the end of February because it is the shortest month of the year.

Those born on February 29 are known as “leap day babies” or “leaplings.” They can only celebrate their true birthdays every four years! If someone tells you that they are 12 but they look 48, you know why! You may go through your life without meeting anyone like that, though – there is only a 1 in 1,461 chance of being born that day.




2月29日に生まれた人は、「leap day babies」または「leapling」として知られています。彼らは本当の誕生日を4年に1度しか祝うことができません!彼らが「12歳です」と言っても48歳に見えるのはそのせいですね!しかし、そのような人に出会わずに人生を送ることになるかもしれません――その日に生まれる確率は1461分の1しかないのです。

A Glove Penalty?

There are many superstitions and traditions associated with leap years. Some believe the added day makes for an extra great year while others think it makes for an extra bad year. In some countries, getting married during a leap year — especially on leap day — is said to end in divorce. I wonder if there is any statistical evidence of this!

But there is another tradition that seems to go against that fear of a leap-year marriage. While customarily men have been the ones to ask women for their hand in marriage, women are free to propose to men on February 29. This tradition is said to have begun in the fifth century, when an Irish nun complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for men to propose. St. Patrick is said to have then decreed the women could propose on this one day that happens every four years.

So what used to happen if a man said no? Fines and penalties! In Denmark, a man would have to give a spurned woman 12 pairs of gloves, perhaps because wearing them helped to hide her embarrassment of not having a ring. In Scotland, the penalty was not only gloves but a kiss, a new silk dress or even a great amount of money. In Finland, a rejected woman was given material for a new skirt. Of course, these days a woman is free to propose to a man any day she likes!





Calendar Talk

Like the other months, the name “February“ has its origins in ancient Roman history. The Roman calendar at first had 10 months, and the months of January and February were added later. According to one theory, the name “February“ comes from the Latin word “februum,” which means “purification.” In the old calendar, a purification ritual called Februa was held on February 15. Some historians have also associated the Latin word for fever, “febris,” with purification from the sweating common with fevers.

February boasts a great number of celebrations. An important annual observance is Black History Month, celebrating the achievements and contributions of African Americans to history, culture and society.

On a lighthearted note, Groundhog Day is printed on February 2 on the calendars of Americans and Canadians. According to folklore, if a groundhog (woodchuck) sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” falls on February 13 this year. Traditionally celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, a Christian holy day, Mardi Gras has evolved into a week-long festival in many countries around the world. It is a festive celebration featuring colorful parades, costumes and lots of partying.

And, of course, Valentine’s Day is held on February 14. There are so many regional differences in how this day of romance is celebrated.

February is such a fun month! By the time it rolls around, everyone has given up on their New Year’s resolutions and started indulging too much again. If you pronounce it as Fe-BREW-ary, you can consider it a great month for drinking beer! Have a great month!








●〔*1〕アメリカとカナダでは、「2月2日にウッドチャックが冬眠から覚めて穴を出て、地上で自分の影を見ると驚いてさらに6週間の冬ごもりに戻ってしまう。そして春の到来が遅れる」という言い伝えがあります。(参照:ナショナル ジオグラフィック


Short But Strange

add to the confusionその混乱に輪をかける
leap yearうるう年
leap over~を飛び越える[飛び越す]
astronomical year太陽年

A Glove Penalty?

ask for someone’s hand in marriage~に結婚を申し込む、~に求婚する
St. Patrick聖パトリック

Calendar Talk

observance 慣例、祝賀、行事
Black History Month黒人歴史月間
On a lighthearted[light] note軽い話をすると
Groundhog Dayグラウンドホッグ・デー、聖燭節の日
groundhog/woodchuck ウッドチャック
Mardi Grasマルディ・グラ、告解火曜日
Ash Wednesday灰の水曜日、聖灰水曜日


February freeze(2月の凍える寒さ)

This describes a period of extremely cold weather during February. This phrase is often used in regions where February tends to be one of the coldest months of the year.“ A February freeze has left millions without power.”


out in the cold(無視[黙殺]されて、忘れられて)

This describes being excluded or neglected from a group or activity. “When my family gets together for holidays, I sometimes feel left out in the cold.”


cold hands, warm heart(一見冷たそうで実は優しい)

This refers to the idea that someone who has cold hands may actually be very kind. You can also use it to describe people you might think are cold but they are really not. “Mr. Smith looks so unemotional, but he gives generously to many charities – it’s a case of cold hands, warm heart.” (By the way, I have never heard anyone say the opposite – warm hands, cold heart.)


cold feet(おじけ、逃げ腰)

This means to be nervous or hesitant about an upcoming action. “Just before her wedding, she got cold feet.”


hibernation mode(冬眠状態)

This describes the tendency to stay indoors and be less active during the chilly winter months, especially February. “Thanks for the invitation to dinner, but I’m in hibernation mode these days.”


英語コラム執筆:Margaret Stalker

英語を学び、英語で学ぶための語学情報ウェブサイト「ENGLISH JOURNAL」が、英語学習の「その先」にあるものをお届けします。 単なる英語の運用能力にとどまらない、知識や思考力を求め、「まだ見ぬ世界」への一歩を踏み出しましょう!


2024 07