Why February is the Shortest Month

Samara Scott on Feb 28, 2024 10:10:16 AM

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We’ve all wondered why February is the shortest month. Whether it was a passing thought or you stopped to think about it. This article seeks to answer your questions while teaching you some of the history behind the reason.

The Roman Calendar

Before the Julian calendar, the ancient Romans followed the Roman calendar. It consisted of ten months, starting in March and ending in December. At the time, King Romulus deemed the time between December and March unimportant, as it had nothing to do with the harvest season. They followed this calendar until around 700 B.C. when King Numa Popilius implemented a 12-month calendar to fit better with the 12 lunar cycles that took place in a year. 

The Julain Calendar

This new calendar had 355 days, the number of days in a month alternating between 29 and 30 days each month. However, the ancient Romans considered even numbers to be unlucky. To keep the odd number of days in a year, they decided to make February 28 days. The reason for choosing February was most likely because the Romans performed rites of purification and a time for honoring the dead.

However, issues began to arise with this new calendar. The seasons and months fell out of sync. Around 45 BCE, Julius Caesar commissioned an expert to create a sun-based calendar. This new calendar was 365 days long, each month now alternating between 30 and 31 days, except for February.  






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