I have always maintained that February is the worst month. It is bleak and cold and the rain beats down on you in never-ending pitter-patters that make you want to curl into a ball and hibernate until May comes. I have watched many relationships – romantic, platonic, you name it – shrivel and die in the cold of February. 

I think it’s important not to hate things. I’ve always been a pessimist, but spend an hour with an optimist and you start to feel differently about the world. February is a cold and terrible month, and so I think it’s important to look at the good parts of February, and make this freezing, no-good month a little bit warmer.

‘February’ comes from the Latin februum, which means purification. It’s easy to see how the month of February could be a purifying month – the rain washes away the bad memories and bad experiences of the year, leaving the entire city – the Radcam, the Bod, Exam Schools – looking clean and renewed. Perhaps this is why so many relationships end in February, why it was termed “the breakup month” by my friends – it is a time to remove negative relationships in your life. Breakups are too often seen as an ending; what if we view them as beginnings? What if it is not a loss of love, but the opportunity to find someone who is better suited to you? Relationships can be wonderful, but the end of one relationship doesn’t mean the end of love in your life, but rather a new opportunity to love a new person. 

February is also the only month that is able to pass without a full moon. The last time that happened was in 1999, but this is surely what makes it a wonderful month for werewolves. For those of us who don’t happen to be cursed by the full moon, this is less important, but hey, at least the werewolves get a month off. Good for them.

There’s also something to be said for Februaries experienced in Oxford, I must admit. The first time I visited Oxford was in the summer, and it was bright and shining and warm. But Oxford in winter? It is gothic and cold, conjuring the dark academia aesthetic that I chased as a fourteen-year-old, and as I run to my lecture in the rain I can almost see the ghosts of former students running alongside me, united in the tedium of dreary British weather. I am cold and miserable, but isn’t that, in part, what Oxford is about? Lofty spires that  touch the clouds need some clouds to touch, and the yellowing brickwork of the architecture looks so much more fitting against a grey sky than a blue one. 

February also spanned weeks 3-7 of Hilary term this year, arguably the best weeks of term. Weeks 0-2 are filled with stress about collections and new modules, and the homesickness that pervades the beginning of term. This is replaced with the dread of going home that arises in Week 8, when you realise you’ve only got a week left and all of your friends are going home to far-off parts of the country and you have five weeks of boredom and solitude. The mid-section of term, the month that is February, is full of Park Ends and movie nights and allowing yourself to take a day or two off because it’s week 5 and you can probably finish that essay tomorrow, right? February has represented being settled back into college, with stress being a temporary thing that can be fixed by an all-nighter in the library. 

Another wonderful thing about February is leap days. Yes, they’re only part of February 25% of the time, but leap days are quite possibly the most exciting day of the year. In my opinion, February 29th should be a national, or even universal, holiday. It’s an extra day! We should get to spend it rotting in bed, or finally watching that movie we’ve been wanting to watch for ages, or catching up on the tasks that pile up as a result of just existing as an independent adult (I write this whilst looking at the piles of laundry cluttering my room). It’s such a whimsical concept, to add in an extra day every so often (and yes, I know there’s an explanation to do with astronomy and orbits. Let me have my whimsy). How cute, how darling, to decide that every so often, there’ll be a fun little extra day hiding in the calendar. February may be my least favourite month, but February 29th is my favourite day.

Perhaps my favourite thing about February is that it’s short. I know, I know, this is kinda a backhanded compliment. But what a wonderful thing that the most hateable month is also the shortest, that sunny months like July and August last for so long and the dreary February only has 29 days, and only once every four years (I know that the weather doesn’t confirm to the system of months, but that will not stop my hatred for February. December manages to be a great month and it’s even colder than February). I would love to be an optimist, someone who loves the world around her exactly as it is, but I somehow doubt that that change will occur overnight. For now, I am content to find happiness in the simple fact that horrible things, like the month of February, end.