Why February Has 28 Days?

During the Roman times, the year consisted of 10 months based on the lunar cycle which had only 29 and half days. The spring equinox in March marked the beginning of the calendar and ended with December. As the calendar was lunar, the sum of total number of days in the Roman calendar was only up to 304 days. This was greatly different from the solar year that reaches a quarter and 365 days.

February Why February Has 28 Days?

King Numa’s Calendar

A legend says that King Numa Pompilius added January and February increasing the number of months to twelve for solving the inconsistency of days. The new months had 28 days each. However in those times, even numbers were considered as bad luck. So King Numa added a day to January totaling to seven months with 29 days and four months consisting of 31 days. With this addition, an odd-numbered 355 days was given to the year.


However, the addition of odd-numbers was still short of the solar year by a quarter and 10 days. So Numa invented an extra month which was called Mercedinus. This would be added every other year to February. There were 27 days in this extra month and was added after February 23 every couple of years or so.

The calendar of King Numa’s was getting closer to a system that would work but its dependence on the lunar cycle still makes it unfit for the 365 and ¼ days that is required by a solar year. Besides that, the pontiffs who were in charge of calendar upkeep did not always make an addition of extra month on schedule. This led the government officials to take advantage of the system’s imperfections to lengthen their office timings.

The Julian Calendar

When Julius Caesar came to the throne in 45 BC, he ignored the lunar cycle and gott rid of Mercedinus by arranging number of days in the twelve months for adding them up to exactly 365 1/4. This was the time when the calendar started following the Egyptian solar calendar. February then wounded up with only 29 days plus an extra after every fourth year that passed. The calendar according to this configuration is called the Julian calendar. This is basically what we use today.

Stories have it

Many tales were associated with how the present calendar was made. One of the stories is that Augustus who ruled Rome next after Julius was jealous of the honor given to Julius Caesar. The month of July was honorably named on him and the month was specially summed up to 31 days. For appeasing Augustus’ desire, his admirers added one day to August after taking it out from poor February, the month was named after the jealous emperor.

A possible reason for February to be a victim of stolen days is because it is the month when Romans honored the dead and performed rites of purification. The name of February originated from the word “februare,” this means “to purify” in the dialect of the ancient Sabine tribe.

There were some speculations that Caesar added a day in to February when he reformed the calendar making it 29 days long. But now, this theory is believed to be not real. It is possible that Julius had never even added a day in to February.

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