Why Are There Only 28 Days in February?

Thirty days has September,

April, June, and November.

All the rest have thirty-one,

Except for February alone,

Which has but twenty-eight days clear,

And twenty-nine in each leap year.

Well, that says the Old Mother Goose’s rhyme. There’s always a mystery on how the calendar transformed into what it looks like toady; especially the month of February. There are some interesting stories like Augustus Caesar removed the extra day from February and added to August the month named after his name – a myth, a story.

When one closely observe the months were designed as per the seasons and its Romans who started the process of bringing out the calendar, the seasons they observed became the basis of it. It is said that initially there were only 10 months in a year as they considered winter as insignificant. For farmers and traders for whom the dates were important to be calculated, these months were practically nothing because of the cold winter. The calendar started in March and ended in December.

In the 8th Century, BC King Numa Pompilius thought why to waste 60 days and wanted to have an exact count. So he added January & February towards the end and brought into line it to lunar cycles. As we all know Romans were highly superstitious of even numbers being unlucky. Historians think that this superstition belief of even number being unlucky made them reduce the last of the months to be the shortest as they wanted it to end soon and hence February being the last month had the least number of days. The 355-day calendar thus formed had its flaws. As years progressed it started differing to the seasons and various stop-gap calculations were introduced which created utter chaos in calculating the days.

Julius Caeser, the man behind February being 28 days…

In 4th century BC by the time Julius Caesar came to power people had almost zero ideas on what day it was. Julius Caesar with the help of his astronomer Sosigenes created a 365-day calendar by adding few days. Not only this, he aligned the calendar to the Sun. It says that to get it right 46 BC was made 445 days long. He also made leap year those years which are exactly divisible by 4 and added the extra day to February thus making it with 29 days on February of leap year. He still kept February, which by the time has gone up among the months, as a month with the least number of days. Maybe as his predecessor’s superstition being the reason.

The Renaissance and the medieval period saw much scientific advancement which contradicted the beliefs so far. Nicolas Copernicus’s inventions made a mathematical model of Sun being the center of the Solar system. His inventions made mathematical evidence strong that a year is made of 365.2425 days and the quarter day loss happening in each year is added up to the month of February in the 4th year. This made the Julian calendar with February being with 28 days in normal years and 29 on leap years more authentic.

However the superstition formed in the minds of Romans and thus resulting February to 28 days were followed for centuries that it has become an obligatory mandate to follow.