Why Does February Have Just 28 Days, Anyway?

February gets the shaft when it comes to days in the month. While other months last 30 or 31 days, February has 28 or 29, depending on the year. Why? Well, this video explains all of the fiddling that Romans did to the calendar, and how that resulted in a single short month.


In the latest episode of It's Okay to be Smart, Joe Hanson explains how the Roman calendar changed over time. It was the Roman King Numa Pompilius (Edit: I initially wrote "Emperor;" JadeOwl points out that Numa Pompilius was a king) who gave us the 28-day month of February, but the story doesn't end there. We end up not just with leap days but entire leap months, which were sometimes of variable lengths. It was Julius Caesar who gave Rome the solar calendar, while still basing it on Rome's earlier lunar calendar. Watch the video for all the details.

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Numa Pompilius was a king of Rome, not an emperor. It is an important distinction in this case.