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The shortest month that the year appears to have gone by in a flash. Why go February have actually only 28 days?

It’s the Romans’ fault. Our modern calendar is loosely based on their old, confound one. Though documents on the roman calendar space sparse and also sketchy, legend has it that Romulus, the first king the Rome, devised a 10-month lunar calendar that started at the spring equinox in March and also ended with December. It is unclear whether there were any official months between December and also March, but it’s likely they to be left off because the wintertime wasn’t essential for the harvest.

The 2nd king the Rome, Numa Pompilius, chose to do the calendar more accurate by syncing that up v the really lunar year—which is around 354 work long. Numa tacked on 2 months—January and February—after December to account for the new days.

The brand-new months each had actually 28 days. However that no sit well v Numa due to the fact that even numbers to be considered bad luck in ~ the time. So, he included a work on come January, giving the year one odd-numbered 355 days. No one knows why February was left v 28 and also remained an unlucky month. It may be concerned the truth that Romans honored the dead and performed rites of purification in February. (The native februare method “to purify” in the language of the old Sabine tribe.)

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The 355-day calendar couldn’t remain in sync v the seasons because it didn’t account for the quantity of time the took because that the earth to orbit the sun. So, one extra “intercalary” month of 27 work was placed after February 23 every couple of year or therefore to also things out. The pontiffs that were in fee of calendar upkeep didn’t always include the extra month ~ above schedule. (Some public representative took benefit of the mechanism to extend their time in office, for example.)

In about 45 B.C., Julius Caesar commissioned an professional to put aside the lunar origins of the roman inn calendar and also make it sun-based, choose the Egyptian one. Caesar included 10 days to the calendar year and an extra job in February every 4 years. (The leap-year job was inserted after the 23rd, the exact same time together the old intercalary month.) Now, the year average out to 365.25 days, very close come the actual average length of a year: 365.2425 work (and even that varies).

Some have speculated that Caesar included a day come February when he reformed the calendar—making that 29 days long. The story goes that as soon as the Senate renamed the month the Sextilis to respect the emperor Augustus, that day to be subtracted from February and added to august in bespeak to make it same in number to July—the month called for Caesar. Yet this concept is now believed to it is in bunk; it’s most likely that Julius never even added a day come February.