The Labors of February

Februar And with my spade I delfe my landys—Anonymous Middle English lyric from the Bodleian MS. Digby 88

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.

February from the Da Costa Hours features pruning the vines.

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

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