Story Behind 28 Days In February

February, a month to express love, is a short month because it is “missing” days, but why does this month only has 28 days (or 29 in leap year) instead of 30 or 31 as the other months do? Lets know about this..

The ancient Romans were pretty logical. The Roman calendar originally had only 10 months, beginning from March 1. (That’s why “September” is named after “7”, “October” after 8, “November” after 9, and “December” after 10.)  In that time, the advent of Spring was considered a harbinger of a beginning; thus the year back then used to start with March being its first month. The year kick started from March and ended at December.

The names: January and February did not even exist back then. In this calendar, months alternated with having 30 or 31 days and hence, totaling 304 days in a year.The remaining days were simply winter days in which there was nothing worth celebrating, no agriculture or production and in short, were just considered least important.

The reason according to the legends,

Julius Caesar wanted a month named after him for which people would remember him for a long time. So he created July with 31 days with 1 day pulled out of February. And when Augustus Caesar took over the Roman Empire he named August after him, again with 31 days thus pulling off another day from February, since it was the end of the year.

Many historians did not believe in these legends and they believed that February always had 28 days since the time of king Numa Pompilius.  Numa Pompilio in the year 713AD, decided that in order to adapt the calendar to the lunar one, a further 2 months would need to be added. They were inserted at the beginning and the end of the year and were called Ianuarius (January) and Februarius (February) as the time of purification and the year ended up with 354 days.

At the time of Numa Pompilio, it was believed that even numbers were unlucky, so to remain in favor of the Gods, the calendar was modified to alternate months with 29 or 31 days, but the numbers didn’t match. He created 7 months with 29 days and 4 months with 31 days but to make it 355 days in total he needed a month with even number so he chose February, as it was considered as the least favorite month because it arrived in the middle of the winter. And hence 28 days.

Almost seven centuries later, Julius Caesar introduced his calendar, moving the beginning of the year to January 1.

Now, Why does February has 29 days in a Leap Year?

We add an extra day every 4 years because the time it takes earth to go around the sun is NOT exactly 365 days, but actually 365 1/4 days. So, every 4 years we add an extra day in February to catch up with the sun’s orbit.


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