eli5: Why does July & August have 31 days but February has only 28 ?


eli5: Why does July & August have 31 days but February has only 28 ?

In: 123

January and February were originally at the end of the year, and replaced what was originally just an open period of “winter.” Since it just kind of got whatever was left over at the end, February wound up with the fewest amount of days. It kept this short stature when it was moved to before March, and when the Julian calendar was introduced it stayed the shortest month but was standardized as 28/29 days.

February was historically the last month of the year because the Calendar would start in spring.

In the earlier Roman era they weren’t entirely sure how long the year was, so in winter they would have a period of days that was outside the calendar. It was winter and nothing of significance was happening anyway.

Eventually they reformed the calendar to make it more consistent year by year and added a couple more months so that the calendar would apply to a whole solar year. Once they figured out the year was actually 365 days long they added whatever remaining days required to February which wasn’t quite the 30 they needed. Hence Feb ended up with 28.

The first month of the year was March, which corresponded (at least for a time) when the Romans would pick their new leaders and it was when the Armies could march.

(March’s name is derived from Mars the God of war, and so is the word march)

So why didn’t the even out the days? or change the months to make them make more sense?

It’s a case of “We’ve been doing this way for almost 2000 years, so why change it?”

The changes we have made to the calendar since were to add Leap years

You’re onto something. Next line of questioning is why is September the 9th month when the prefix Sep usually denotes the number 7. And why is October the 10th month when oct mean 8. Furthermore, how goes it that December is the 12th month when Deca is 10. January is named after the Greek god Janus. February is named after a Greek purification rite. July is an homage to Julius Ceasar and obviously an imposter for the 7th month. And, August, a truncation of Augustus Ceasar, clearly has no etymological claim to being the 8th month. Moral of the story is time-as-we-know-it, is arbitrary and we don’t fully understand even what it is in the first place.