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Why Does February Only Have 28 Days?

All months have 30 or 31 days except for February, which has only 28 days or 29 in each leap year.

Hi everyone,

It’s February already! Can you believe it? February is the shortest month of the year, with only 28 days. Why is this? Well, we can blame the Ancient Romans for this! In Ancient Rome, February and January didn’t even exist at all! Instead, the Romans used the Calendar of Romulus, a 10 month calendar that began in March (to coincide with spring) and ended in December.

Because of this, the year was actually only 304 days long. The whole season of winter (though it existed), didn’t have a name and was considered useless. This is because planters and harvesters used the calendar as a timetable, and didn’t need winter. So for 61 days of the year, the Romans didn’t actually know what month or season it was… and they didn’t care!

However, not everyone thought this was a good system! King Numa Pompilius, decided that it didn’t make any sense to ignore a part of the year, so in lined up the calendar with the year’s 12 lunar cycles and created January and February and the year became 355 days. But at this time, the months were added the END of the calendar, making February the last month of the year.

Because the Romans were a superstitious bunch, they believed even numbers to be unlucky, so all other months were given either 29 or 31 days, but to reach 355 days one month had to be given an even number… and the unlucky contender was February!

Unfortunately, the new calendar had its problems. After a few years the seasons and the months would fall out of sync.  To keep things in order the Romans would sometimes insert a 27 day leap month into the calendar. But this just complicated things more.

By Julius Caesar’s time, the calendar was a mess again! So Caesar took charge and aligned the calendar with the sun, adding a few days to make the year 365 days long. February, however, got to keep its 28 days. To keep things working properly every 4 years (the leap year), February would get an extra day.

I hope everyone is enjoying the shortest month of the year so far!

Hi everyone,

I'm Rebecca, and Australian living in Rome. I love art, history, food, and creative writing! I am blogging for Creative English in the hope to combine all these passions and share them with you all. Happy reading!

REBECCA ALLISON

Creative English Teacher