Why is February the shortest month of the year?


Quick Answer

February is the shortest month because it is used to realign the calendar with the solar year by adding days during leap years. The reason February was chosen for this purpose goes back to the Romans, who did not originally have months for the winter season.

Know More
Why is February the shortest month of the year?
Credit: Alberttch iStock / Getty Images Plus Getty Images

Full Answer

The Romans originally only had a 10-month calendar that excluded January and February. These months were eventually added to the calendar by Roman king Numa Pompilius around 700 BCE, in order to have the calendar sync up with the lunar year. This system wasn't perfect and required an extra month every few years in order to realign the calendar with the lunar year.

Later, the calendar was reformed once again by Julius Caesar to align it with the solar year. Under this system, January and February were both originally 28 days, but it was considered an unlucky number by the Romans. Days were added to January leaving February the shortest year.

In today's Gregorian calendar, a successor to the Julian calendar of the Romans, the month of February serves to realign the calendar with the seasons, through the addition of the extra day during leap years.

Learn more about Months & Seasons

Related Questions