Why does February have only 28 days?
Credit:Rangar SchmuckN/AGetty Images
Q:

Why does February have only 28 days?

A:

Quick Answer

The designation of only 28 days in February began when King Numa Pompilius reformed the Roman calendar around 713 B.C. The Roman calendar then had only 10 months, with no months assigned to winter. Numa added January and February, with February as the last month of the year, and adjusted its length to correspond to a year of 355 days. The Julian and Gregorian calendar reforms later modified its length.

 Know More

Full Answer

The word February comes from the Roman Februarius, which means purification. Whenever Roman calendars required modification, the changes were made after the 23rd day of February. The remaining days in February were considered a second part of the month. In the Roman calendar, leap months were added from time to time to reconcile calendar and solar years.

In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar. January became the first month of the year, and the year gained 10 days, increasing from 355 to 365 days. To realign the new calendar correctly, 46 B.C. was 445 days long, and afterwards, the years were of standard length. In the Julian calendar, a leap day was added to February every four years, making it 29 days instead of 28.

The next major reform was the Gregorian calendar, used in most modern western countries. The reform mainly concerns leap year calculations. It leaves out three leap days every 400 years to bring the calendar more closely in line with lunar cycles. It changed the average length of a year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days, a difference of 10 minutes and 48 seconds every year. Through all these reforms, February remained the short month, as it was originally designated by Numa Pompilius.

Learn more about Months & Seasons

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the summer months?

    A:

    In the northern hemisphere, the summer months are considered June, July and August; however, in the southern hemisphere, the summer months are December, January and February. In the northern hemisphere, the summer season runs from June 20th or 21st through September 21st or 22nd each year.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What months make up the first quarter?

    A:

    January, February and March are the months that make up the first quarter if an organization's fiscal year starts at the beginning of January. Different organizations may start their fiscal years at different times, though, and the first three months of that time period would make up the first quarter. In the business and government sectors in the United States, a year is divided up into four pieces, each of which is called a quarter. This is done so that analysts, accountants, independent contractors, investors, tax regulators and other interested parties can easily track growth, profits, goals and set due dates for certain regulatory items.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why do the months have different numbers of days?

    A:

    Months have different numbers of days because a month is a measure of time that corresponds or nearly corresponds to the length of time the Moon revolves once around Earth. The lengths of all astronomical months vary slightly due to perturbations in the Moon’s orbit.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How many days are in winter?

    A:

    There are around 89 or 90 days in winter. The exact number in a given year depends on whether it is leap year as well as the dates of the winter solstice and vernal equinox.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore