The birthstone for February is the amethyst, which makes the official February birthstone color purple. Amethysts are made out of the 2nd most abundant mineral that is found in the crust of the earth, the quarts. Geodes are often lined with quartz and will sometimes contain amethyst as well. Amethysts can range in color from a rich purple to a faint mauve. Some scientists think that the purple color comes from the iron oxide content of the amethyst and others think that hydrocarbons or manganese.
History of Amethysts
The amethyst has a history of legend and lore. The stone can be traced back at least 25000 years in France where prehistoric humans used it as a decorative stone. There are also amethysts found among remains of Neolithic men.
The signet that was worn by Cleopatra is said to be amethyst and engraved with Mithras who was a deity that symbolizes the divine idea of life and light. The amethyst is said to be Saint Valentine’s stone as he wore an amethyst that was engraved with Cupid, his assistant. St. Valentine’s day is observed in the month of February.
Amethyst comes from amethystos, which is Greek for “not drunk.” People believed that the stone would help them from becoming intoxicated. According to a story from Greco-Roman mythology, Bacchus who is the god of wine was offended by the huntress Diana. Determined to have his revenge, he declared that the first person that he would meet when he went through the forest would be eaten by tigers. The first person that he crossed was a maiden named Amethyst who was on her way to worship at a shrine to the huntress. She called for the goddess to save her and Bacchus watched the maiden turn into a white, sparkling stone image. As he realized what he had done, Bacchus poured wine over her, which is what gave the stone the violet/purple color. It was quite logical to carry over the myth that amethyst would ward off intoxication. This is why the Romans would serve wine in amethyst glasses, to prevent overindulgence.
Early Egyptians thought that the stone had good powers and would put the stones in the tombs of the pharaohs. It was used in the middle ages as a medication and was believed to dispel sleep, protect the person from sorcery, and sharpen one’s intellect.
February Birth Flower
The birth flower for the month of February is the violet. This is an herbaceous plant that comes in several shades of cream, yellow, mauve, and blue. There are several varieties that are identified as pansies. The flower is the symbol for humility, faithfulness, and chastity.
Folklore states that Attis, who was an earth god who was dying, mutilated himself while standing underneath a pine tree. As a result, in the spring equinox the goddess Cybele would bring to earth a pine tree. The tree would be wrapped up in wool and decorated with violets. It was believed the flowers appeared from the blood of Attis that was on the ground.