Each month in the modern consists of at least 28 days. That number would be a nicely rounded 30 were it not for. While every month besides the second in the calendar contains at least 30 days, February falls short with 28 (and 29 on a leap year). So why is the most widely used calendar in the world so inconsistent in the lengths of its months? And why is February stuck with the fewest number of days? Blame it on Roman superstition. The Gregorian calendarвs oldest ancestor, the first Roman calendar, had a glaring difference in structure from its later variants: it consisted of 10 months rather than 12. In order to fully sync the calendar with the lunar year, the Roman king
added January and February to the original 10 months. When he reorganized the calendarвs dates to fit the new format, Numa tried to avoid having months that consisted of an even number of days, as Roman superstition held that even numbers were unlucky. But in order to reach the 355 days of the lunar year (354. 367 to be exact, but he rounded up to keep it odd), 1 month out of the 12 needed to contain an even number of days.
This is because of simple mathematical factвthe sum of any even amount of odd numbers will always equal an even number. So Numa chose February, a month that would be host to Roman rituals honoring the dead, as the unlucky month to consist of 28 days. Despite changes in the calendar as it was altered after Numaвs additionsвalterations that include the shortening of February at certain intervals, the addition of a leap month, and eventually the modern leap dayвFebruaryвs 28-day length has stuck. Why is February different to all the other months? (Picture: Getty) February is such a unique month Б the home of ValentineБs Day, Pancake Day, Chinese New Year (usually), but all in fewer days than any other month. Yes, February is the irritating month that really messes up the rhyme that begins, Б30 days has September, April, JuneББ It usually has 28 days, except leap years when it has 29, but either way it is less than the 30 or 31 days of every other month (the next leap year is in 2020, in case you were wondering).
February beats the sound of its own drum, but there is a good reason for this, and it dates all the way back to the Romans. Prior to the Gregorian calendar, the one which we use nowadays, the Romans came up with their own calendar that was very different. The main difference being that it only had 10 months. Early Roman calendars only ran from the spring equinox in March to September, the part of the year we now know as January and February was simply left off Б probably because it had little or no importance for the harvest. It is thought that the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius (715-673 BC) decided to sort this mess outб and align the calendar with the lunar year Б filling in the gap. However, this got pretty messy in itself as he initially made January and February both 28 days long, but then changed his mind as even numbers were considered unlucky at the time.
He didnБt want months with even numbers of days, but more so, he didnБt want the year with an even number of days, so Numa gave January an extra day, but left February on an even number. This left the year with 355 days on the Roman calendar. This calendar was ditched by Julius Caesar around 45 BC when he stuck an extra 10 days onto the calendar year and added an extra day in February every four years. ThatБs right, it was Julius Caesar who invented the leap year! This new format got the calendar year a lot closer to the actual time it takes for Earth to orbit the sun (as it was based on the sun rather than the moon). This became known as the Julian calendar (after Caesar) and the Gregorian calendar (named after Pope Gregory XIII) was a reform of this, brought in in 1582. The reason for this reform was due to the Julian calendar making an error in when the spring equinox lands, which affected when Easter would fall, Gregory sorted this out. MORE: MORE: