# why does february has only 28 days

Each month in the modern consists of at least 28 days. That number would be a nicely rounded 30 were it not for. While every month besides the second in the calendar contains at least 30 days, February falls short with 28 (and 29 on a leap year). So why is the most widely used calendar in the world so inconsistent in the lengths of its months? And why is February stuck with the fewest number of days? Blame it on Roman superstition. The Gregorian calendarâs oldest ancestor, the first Roman calendar, had a glaring difference in structure from its later variants: it consisted of 10 months rather than 12. In order to fully sync the calendar with the lunar year, the Roman king
added January and February to the original 10 months. When he reorganized the calendarâs dates to fit the new format, Numa tried to avoid having months that consisted of an even number of days, as Roman superstition held that even numbers were unlucky. But in order to reach the 355 days of the lunar year (354. 367 to be exact, but he rounded up to keep it odd), 1 month out of the 12 needed to contain an even number of days. This is because of simple mathematical factâthe sum of any even amount of odd numbers will always equal an even number.

So Numa chose February, a month that would be host to Roman rituals honoring the dead, as the unlucky month to consist of 28 days. Despite changes in the calendar as it was altered after Numaâs additionsâalterations that include the shortening of February at certain intervals, the addition of a leap month, and eventually the modern leap dayâFebruaryâs 28-day length has stuck. Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31, Except for February, Which got the short stick because it's cold and no one likes it. á Well, something to that effect. Some believe February once boasted 29 days and that Augustus Caesar stole a day so he could add it to August, which was named for him. (If thereÁs a month named after you, why not milk it? ) But thatÁs a myth. Rather, February has 28 days because, to the Romans, the month was an afterthought. In the 8th century BCE, they used the Calendar of Romulus, a 10-month calendar that kicked the year off in March (with the spring equinox) and ended in December. January and February didnÁt even exist: Martius: Aprilius: Maius: Junius: Quintilis: Sextilis: September: October: November: December: Tally up those numbers, and youÁll see a problemÁthe year is only 304 days long.

Back then, winter was a nameless, monthless period that no one cared for much. (Planters and harvesters used the calendar as a timetable. To them, winter was useless and wasnÁt worth counting. ) So for 61 days out of the year, Romans could ask ÁWhat month is it? Á and you could correctly answer, ÁNone! Á King Numa Pompilius thought that was stupid. Why have a calendar if youÁre going to neglect one-sixth of the year? So in 713 BCE, he lined the calendar up with the yearÁs 12 lunar cyclesÁa span of about 355 daysÁand introduced January and February. The months were added to the end of the calendar, making February the last month of the year. But no Roman calendar would be complete without some good old-fashioned superstition mixed in! The Romans believed even numbers were unlucky, so Numa tried to make each month odd. But to reach the quota of 355, one month had to be even. February ended up pulling the short stick, probably because it was simply the last month on the list. (Or as puts it, ÁIf there had to be an unlucky month, better make it a short one. Á) NumaÁs calendar ended up looking like this: Martius: Aprilius: Maius: Iunius: Quintilis: Sextilis: September: October: November: December: Ianuarius: Februarius: Of course, a 355-day calendar had its bugs.

After a few years went by, the seasons and months would fall out of sync. So to keep things straight, the Romans would occasionally insert a 27-day leap month called Mercedonius. The Romans would erase the last couple days of February and start the leap month on February 24Áfurther evidence no one ever cared much for the month. á This caused headaches everywhere. The leap month was inconsistent, mainly because RomeÁs high priests determined when it would arrive. Not only did they insert Mercedonius haphazardly, but the priests (being politicians) abused the power, using it to extend the terms of friends and trim the terms of enemies. By Julius CaesarÁs time, the Roman people had no clue what day it was. So Caesar nixed the leap month and reformed the calendar again. (To get Rome back on track, the year 46 BCE had to be! ) Caesar aligned the calendar with the sun and added a few days so that everything added up to 365. February, which by now was at the top of the calendar, kept its 28 days. We can only imagine itÁs because Caesar, like everyone before and after him, just wanted it to be March already. á

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