The story of February: It’s not the size of the month that matters…
Ever wonder why February had 28 days…. Except when it doesn’t. You know in like every four years it has 29 days.
Well just like a lot of modern practices and cultures, you can blame it all on the Romans.
It all starts with Romulus, the maybe-mythical, maybe-real founder and the first king of Rome. Well, Romulus had a problem. With ever increasing festivals, feasts military ceremonies and religious celebrations to keep track of. Romans needed a calendar to keep track of all that.
Ancient astronomers already had accurate calculations for the time between two solar equinoxes or in simple terms they had a brief idea about how long a year is supposed to be. And following the popular trend back in the day, Rome came up with its own lunar calendar.
The calendar of the Romulan republic had ten months, not 12 just 10. Each month having either 30 or 31 day’s.
Beginning in March and ending in December.
The only issue with this calendar was, yes you guessed it right. Days don’t add up.
The proposed roman year was a few days short of four seasons.
Well back in the day, Romans were either busy not dying during winter to count those 61 and a quarter extra day… they just start the next year on the new moon before the spring equinox.
Not that bad of a system as long as you don’t care about what day it is during December and March.
So, the second king of Rome Numa Pompilius tried something new. Ever number was considered bad luck in ancient Rome so Numa removed a day from all even number months. And being loony for Luna,
12 lunar cycles =~ 354 days
Numa wanted his calendar to cover 12 cycles of moon aka 12 months in place of 10, but that would have been an even number so he rounded it up to 355 days.
Numa split the remaining days into 2 months one with 29 and another with 28 days and tagged them at the end of the year.
Yes, that’s how February got 28 days.
No there is still more to the story.
And yes, even though it had an even number of days, but the month was dedicated to spiritual purification so Romans, let that one go.
Irrespective of how strong Rome was, they couldn’t change the rules of the universe.
What’s the issue?
Well, neither of these calendars add up anywhere close to the time it takes for us to orbit the sun. So after a few years, the seasons were all out of sync, summers in January rain in December kind of stuff. Well, you got the idea.
The crazy part was February was split into two parts first 23 days and the rest of the month, so when every year when Numa’s stupid calendar would be out of sync with seasons, so this additional period was either ignored or added to balance out the years.
And in this way, every four years would have 1465 days that is exactly 366.25 days.
Yea, I know Romans were stupid and I also don’t like maths.
The system could have worked but then human nature got the better of us. Naturally speaking every 19 years’ lunar and solar cycle tends to line up or in simple the out of sync seasons would get in line on its own. So, all gets well in 19 years.
Except those buffer, days weren’t added as according to plans.
Some would ask them to be extended way beyond they should be, or cancel them to make the ruling opponents suffer. And if Rome was in war these added days would be forgotten for years.
So, what happened. Same as before hot January, wet Decembers.
No, it’s not because of Global Warming. That’s made-up Chinese propaganda. ~Precedent Of America
By the time, Julius Caesar came to power, things had become quite confusing.
Yes, the one who said “Et u Brutes”.
As he had spent a lot of time in Egypt, where 365 days’ calendar were simply used so in 46 BC he scrapped the Rome’s old calendar down the gutter and installed his own solar calendar.
January-February was moved to the start of the month, and Caesar also added 10 days to other months to bring up the old count from 355 to 365.
Yes, he also got a month on his name, and every 4th year would come with an additional day and that was added just after February 23, not after 28th.
Don’t ask me why because he wanted to, okay.
Apparently, February was the trash of calendar, just got used by anyone crazy with power and a little idea.
Yup and Idea actually changed the world or the calendar in this case.