Why Is February So Short? The Reason It's Only 28 Days Long

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smiling woman wondering why February has 28 days
Self

February is an interesting month, to say the least. It has a lot of amusing holidays, like Groundhog Day, President's Day, and of course Valentine's Day. For many, it also has one rainy or snowy day too many.

And that's not even mentioning that funny little thing called a leap year. February is the only month where the number of days can change according to the year.

So why is February so short?

Turns out, there is a reason why February has 28 days (and sometimes 29 days on a leap year).

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Much like with all good stories these days, the reason February is so short starts with a throwback — a very, very far throwback.

The Romans were pretty much obsessed with time and figuring out ways they could use it to their advantage. They were so invested in harvesting and planting that they built their 10-month calendar around it.

Obviously, the Romans just weren't that into January and February. The wintertime just wasn't important to them because there couldn't be a harvest in that time period and the Romans based their time around when they could harvest, which was began in March and ended in December — hence, the 10-month calendar. 

While the 10-month calendar was credited to the original king of Rome, Romulus (which is why it was known as the Romulus or Roman calendar), the second king of Rome was not feeling this idea. King Numa Pompilius thought it made more sense to align the months with the 12 lunar cycles throughout the year, thus January and February were born.

However, this idea didn't totally work for the Romans either.

Romans considered even numbers unlucky, which is why some people consider February an unlucky month.

The 12 lunar cycles came to a total of 355 days, and Numa attempted to make each month end on odd numbers.

However, a 355-day calendar could not be reached without making one month even. And we bet you can guess which (un)lucky month got picked.

Since the months January and February were added in after the 10-month calendar was created, they became the last two months in the year so naturally, February was the easiest to even out since it was the last month.

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Of course, this calendar didn't work out very well. The seasons and months were off and the Romans had a hard time keeping the days straight. Until Julius Caesar came around, that is.

Caesar fixed the calendar so that it lined up with the sun, making each month have either 30 days or 31 days, bringing the total number of calendar days to 365.

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February was now in its rightful place at the top of the calendar — but it was 28 only days long. 

No one has really ever been sure why Caesar chose to keep February at 28 days. Perhaps he wanted to prove the superstition of even numbers being unlucky wrong, so he made February the first month to end in an even number. Or maybe he just got tired of counting at that point.

Or maybe, just maybe he was getting those February blues. Et tu, Caesar?

These days we use the Gregorian calendar.

Pope Gregory XIII introduced his calendar in 1582 after finding that Caesar's calendar had begun to fall out of sync with seasons.

The Gregorian calendar also features a leap year, which is each year that February has 29 days instead of 28. Like Caesar's calendar, leap years occur every four years in order to make up for a partial missing day that happens due to the calendar year being rounded to 365 days.

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Sloane Solomon is a YourTango editor and writer who covers pop culture, lifestyle topics, astrology, and relationships.