The month of February and Roman calendars


Photo by Liam Stumacher

This is a photo of a calendar flipped to the month of February. This calendar shows the modern day month of February, with 28 days.

Liam Stumacher, Staff writer

The short month of February has only 28 days, and 29 days on leap year. Everyone

knows this, just not everyone knows why.

To begin with, the most common belief of why February lacks in days is a result of

Roman superstition. At first, the Romans had only ten months in their calendar, and they decided to sync the calendar with the Lunar year. The second king of Rome, Numa, added two months in order to accomplish this, January and February. Now here is when the Roman superstition comes into play, the Romans thought even numbers were evil and unlucky, so they preferred odd numbers. They wanted each month in the year to have an odd number of days, but one month had to be even to get 355 days of the year. And the Romans chose February to have the even 28 days. But the Roman’s calendars were still falling behind, and eventually astronomers found out there are 365 days in the year. At first the Romans added an extra month, various confusions and problems would ensue. So various months with 29 were given an extra day.

But, none of the calendars were perfect. Dates would become too far ahead or behind (like it being Winter in August). So a new calendar needed to be devised, and eventually it was created. The Pope Gregory XIII (13), created a new calendar in 1582, and named it after himself, many cultures around the world still use this calendar. In the modern day Gregorian calendar, every four years there is a leap year, and February gains the 29th day. This is because astronomers figured out that there are 365.25 days in a year. So instead of having an extra .25 of

a day every year, we use an extra day in February. Having this extra day ensures that he equinoxes and solstices land on the proper date.

Solstices are the longest days of the year, when the sun reaches it’s most Northernly distance.  Equinoxes are the shortest days of the year, when the sun crosses the Equator.

The extra day was added to the month February and not any other month thanks to Roman customs. When imprecise calendars were used February was the month where corrections took place. Julius Caesar had the extra day fall on February as a reminiscent of that.

Over the development of calendars, some months lost days, and now some months have 30 days instead of 31.

This is the history of our calendars and why February has 28 days.