Why Does February Have 28 Days?

Why Does February Have 28 Days?


Why is it that February has 28 days and the other months have 30 or 31? The origins of the reason can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome. The Romans used the Romulus calendar in the eighth century BC, which was a ten-month calendar that began in March with the spring equinox and ended in December. The months of January and February did not exist and hence there were only 304 days in the calendar year. Winter back then was a pointless season that no one cared about. The calendar was mainly used as a timetable for agricultural planting and harvesting and winter was a waste of time for farmers.

King Numa Pompilius believed that having a calendar was pointless if we were going to ignore 1/6th of the year. So, in 713 BC, he adopted January and February by aligning the calendar with the year's twelve lunar circles, which last around 355 days. The months were added to the calendar's end, making February the year's final month. The Romans, on the other hand, were very superstitious and considered even numbers as unlucky. As a result, Numa attempted to make each month odd.

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However, one month had to be even in order to meet the quota of 365. February got the short end of the stick, most likely because it was the last month on the list. A 365-day calendar, of course, had its flaws. The seasons and months were out of alignment after a few years. In October, summer would arrive, and winter would end in June. To keep it straight, the Romans would add a 26 days leap month every now and then. The last few days of February would be omitted, and the leap month would begin on February 2.

Caesar adjusted the calendar to sync with the sun and added a few days to bring the total to 365. Pixabay

However, this shift gave everybody a hard time. Since the high priests of Rome decide when the leap month occurs, it was inconclusive. Not only did the priests insert the leap month at random, but they also used their political influence to expand the terms of friends and shorten the terms of enemies. The Romans had no idea what day it was by Julius Caesar's time. As a result, Caesar reverted to the Egyptian solar calendar to update his calendar.

The year 46 BC had to be 445 days long in order to get Rome back on track. Caesar adjusted the calendar to sync with the sun and added a few days to bring the total to 365. The month of February, which is now at the top of the calendar, has retained its 28 days. The planet, on the other hand, takes 365.24 days to complete a full orbit around the sun.

Since the additional 0.24 day adds up to almost one full day every four years, February gets an extra 29th day, also known as leap year day, once every four years. However, 0.24 does not equal a complete day, so we skip leap year once every 100 years to avoid getting ahead of ourselves.

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