# Why there are 28 days in February

2017-03-01 06:01

HAVE you ever wondered why February has only 28 days, apart from every four years of course? Blame it on ancient Roman superstition.

The first Roman calendar had a glaring difference in structure from its later variants — it consisted of 10 months rather than 12. To bring it into line, a Roman emperor, Numa, added January and February. When he reorganised the calendar’s dates to fit the new format, Numa tried to avoid having months that consisted of an even number of days, as Romans believed that even numbers were unlucky.

But in order to reach the 355 days of the lunar year (354,367 to be exact but he rounded up to keep it odd), one month out of the 12 needed to contain an even number of days. This is because of the simple mathematical fact that the sum of any even amount of odd numbers will always equal an even number. So Numa chose February, a month that would be host to Roman rituals honouring the dead, as the unlucky month to consist of 28 days.

For the record, the following apply to leap years. A year is a leap year if it is divisible by four, but century years are not leap years unless they are divisible by 400.

So, the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but the year 2000 was. The last leap day was Monday, February 29, 2016, and the next will be Saturday February 29, 2020. But it’s not a perfect match — adding a leap day every four years overcompensates by a few extra seconds each leap year, adding up to about three extra days every 10 000 years.

Anyone born in a leap year is called a “leapling”. In ancient times it was known as “Ladies Day”, when women were free to propose marriage to men of their choice, but it was also claimed that it was unlucky to marry during a leap year.

#### Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

9 minutes ago

## Welcome to News24

Get Published!
News In Your Area
Top Lifestyle
/World

### Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic

### Jobs in Cape Town[change area]

#### Manager Information Services Planning, Cape Town

Cape Town
DAV Professional Placement Group
R1 200 000 - R1 300 000 Per Year

Western Cape
Cheryl Krieger
R7 000 Per Month

#### Junior Tour Consultant

Western Cape
All About Africa Tours & Travels

### Property[change area]

#### HOUSES FOR SALE IN Durbanville, Sonstraal

Houses R 3 595 000

#### HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl, Paarl South

Houses R 9 975 000

#### HOUSES FOR SALE IN Somerset West

Houses R 4 260 500

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.

English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

# Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.