The Labors of February

Detail from the February calendar page of the Da Costa Hours showing men pruning the vines
DaCosta Hours MS M.399, fol. 3v.jpg detail from the February Calendar Page


The specific labors of the month for February (represented astrologically as the sign of Pisces, the fish) as depicted in Medieval books of hours tended to depend in part on where the labor was occurring. Colder, northern climes feature people warming themselves and their clothing by the fire, chopping wood, or possibly, attending church.

Manuscripts from warmer, more temperate lands depict people working the soil with spade and plow, or trimming and pruning hedges and vines.

There’s a noticeable overlap in terms of the kinds of labors performed in February and the labors of March.

The Anonymous Middle English lyric describing the labors of the months offers this for February:

Februar And with my spade I delfe my landys— Bodleian MS. Digby 88

February from the Da Costa Hours features pruning the vines.

February from the Très Riches Heures features warming by the fire.