February is the shortest month of the year, but many people have no idea why that is. It is the only month to have fewer than 30 days, but there is no scientific reason behind that distinction, though there have been various changes to the calendar throughout the centuries, and eventually became what it is today.
February: Fun Facts
The Romans developed a 10 month calendar that began with the Spring equinox in March and ended in December. There is belief that what is now February was overlooked when this calendar was created, as winter weather had little to do with the harvest in the northern hemisphere, where Rome is located. Romans essentially considered the winter a period of time with no distinctive months.
calendar more accurate
When the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius, took to the throne in 713 BC, he had plans to make the calendar more accurate by synchronizing it with the actual lunar year, which is roughly 354 days long. Thus, two new months, January and February, were added to the end of the calendar. Both January and February had 28 days.
At the time, even numbers were considered bad luck, and these months were not looked upon favorably by the king. So he decided to make changes once more and added a day to January to make it 29 days long. February was left untouched, remaining an “unlucky” month and one devoted to honoring the dead and performing rites of purification, as the word February comes from februare, which means “to purify.” February remained the last month of the year for roughly 200 years until the calendar was reevaluated and February was reassigned as the second month, with January being the start of the new year.
This new 355-day calendar simply could not stay in sync with the seasons because it did not account for the amount of time it takes the Earth to orbit the sun. Therefore, an extra “month” of 27 days was added after February 23 each year to play catch-up. Sometimes this extra month was overlooked or not scheduled in time, continuing the calendar conundrum.
Julius Caesar was responsible for tackling calendar problems further when he was in power. He wished to make the calendar solar-based, like the one Egyptians used, instead of the older lunar-based calendar. This led to the creation of the Julian calendar. Ten days were added to the calendar year in various months, and February was increased every four years (leap year) to 29 days (Leap Day) to coordinate the calendar year to the solar cycle of roughly 365.2425 days.
People born on a leap year, which would be Leap Day, the 29th, technically celebrate their birthday only once every four years, but most observe it on the 28th. Celebrities born on Leap Day the 29th include Tony Robbins, Antonio Sabato, Jr., Mervyn Warren, and Dennis Farina.
Shortest Month of the Year
February remains the shortest month of the year. Through the years there has been no widespread attempt to reorganize the calendar once more to even out the months and give extra time to February. As a result of the shorter number of days, February has some unique attributes. In common years, February can pass without a single full moon. The next time this will happen is in 2018. Once every six years, February is the only month that has four, full seven-day weeks.
Months that Start on the Same Day
February starts on the same day of the week as March and November in common years, and on the same day of the week as August on leap years. February ends on the same day of the week as October every year. In leap years, it is the only month that begins and ends on the same weekday.
Packed with many events
Despite its status of being shortest month, this short month is packed with many events, including Valentine’s Day and Groundhog Day. Americans celebrate the birth of two presidents in February, as well as Black History Month. Mexicans celebrate Flag Day in this shortest month of the year. While residents of St. Lucia celebrate their Independence Day. February is also a time for families, especially in Canada, where Family Day is celebrated on the third Monday of the month in many provinces.
No one really knows
No one really knows for certain why February was relegated to the shortest month. However, with so much trivia and special events surrounding the month, it is still a special time of year. However it is an important month for sports fans, as two teams will face each other in the Super Bowl on the first Sunday of the month.
Article & Graphic Compliments of Metro Creative. TF142952
First published February 12, 2016. Last Republished or updated January 31, 2018.