February

Musee Conde Trés Riches Heures MS_65_F2v via Wikimedia Commons

The calendar image for February in books of hours, like that of January, often features someone sitting by the fire, but calendar pages for February are rife with scenes related to the chill of deepest winter. Typically they feature the piscine astrological signs for Pisces. The saints’ days for February include St. Ignatious, and St. Bridget.

This image from the February calendar page in the Très Riche Heures du Duc de Berry in the Museé Cluny shows the labors of a fairly typical winter day.

This calendar page features an interesting technique in that the house on the bottom left has been cutaway, revealing the inside. A pair of peasants are warming themselves by the fire, less than decorously, as both the woman in blue and the man (wearing gray) have removed their lower garments in order to warm their legs—completing exposing their genitalia. I suspect the garments in question are hanging on the back wall of the house, behind them.

Just outside the house, a woman who appears to be of a higher socio-economic class (based on her clothing and manners), has her skirts slightly raised to encourage the heat to warm her legs without being immodest; notice the way she is turned away from the the display of them men inside. There’s a slightly weasel-looking cat near her feet.

It seems to be a fairly prosperous farm, with a dove cote (see the doves feeding on the ground) dome-shaped bee hives, and a sheep-fold with plump sheep. Just to the right of the sheep-fold, a shivering peasant’s breathe warms the air, an interesting detail for the era. Notice too the smoke curling upwards from the house’s chimney.

The calendar proper in the semicircle at the top of the winter scene shows Aquarius on the left and Pisces on the right, and the chariot of the sun below them.

Musee Conde Trés Riches Heures MS_65_F2v via Wikimedia Commons