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This article originally appeared on VulcanPost.my

Ever wondered why — out of an entire 12-month year — only one has 28 days?

September, April, June, and November have 30 days.

The rest have 31.

All except February. Why is that so?


February’s Origins

No, it isn’t completely about St Valentine or Valentines day — it’s actually more related to the Romans.  Initially, February didn’t even exist, and neither did January. That’s right, the Romans used to begin their 10-month year in March (during the Spring Equinox), according to Romulus’s Calendar. That means that with 2 months missing, there were only 304 days in a year back then! After December, there were just a series of unnamed days that lasted practically half of Winter; when people asked what month it was, “Nothing!” was the standard answer.

Image Credit:Mental Floss
Image Credit:Mental Floss

That’s pretty ridiculous. 

Yes it was, and half-fortunately, someone during that time found that ridiculous too, and that was King Numa Pompilius. He lined up the year according the the moon’s lunar cycle (of which there were 12, or one per month), adding January and February in to make it a 12-month year with February marking the end of the year. In more fashionable terms, February was the new — or rather, old — December. This was still flawed, however: from 304 days, the year got bumped up to 355 days, causing a lot of mayhem in the society such as seasons being out of sync, and getting the wrong dates.

And another thing! 

The Romans at the time had a superstition about even numbers being bad luck, and in order to reach 355 days, one month had to have even days — and yeah, you guessed it — it was February. This made the leap month inconsistent. During that time, the leap month was called Mercedonius, which lasted 27 days.

High priests were in charge of determining when Mercedonius would take place each year. Rome’s Democracy held elections, and to help their friends, High Priests would place Mercedonius in their favour, while delaying it for their enemies.

Image Credit : http://www.grolschfilmworks.com/

Hail Caesar!

Much later, a newly appointed Julius Caesar restructured the leap month and calendar again, this time according to the Sun (this was inspired by his Egyptian agenda back then). This move pushed January and February (which still lasted 28 days!) up to the beginning of the year, as well as bumping the number of days in a year to a total of 365 days. January and February babies should appreciate this, as you can now tell people that you were born on the xth of January/February instead of the xth of Nothing!

Confused? Watch this video for some pretty cool animations to accompany that long-winded explanation.

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(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)