In a typical year, most months tend to last 30 or 31 days.
That isn’t the case with February.
February only has 28 or 29 days.
Why is that though?
Here’s what you need to know about February and why it’s short.
Why Is February So Short?
February being short all started with the second Roman king, Numa Pompilius.
During his time, the yearly calendar only had 355 days in it.
Most of the months had an odd number of days because the Romans thought even numbers brought bad luck.
They didn’t want a month to end on an even number where they could help it.
However to reach 355 days at least one month had to be even, and February was that month.
Because it was the only month at the time with an even number of days, the Romans often used that month for certain rituals.
That’s how February being short started, but there were further changes with the introduction of the Julian calendar.
The calendar used today is the Gregorian calendar, but it’s based on the Julian calendar.
The famous Roman, Julius Caesar, was responsible for the creation of the Julian calendar.
During Caesar’s time, the calendar wasn’t exactly correct.
Before he changed the calendar, the year only had 355 days in it.
As a result, the seasons started to change before they should according to the calendar.
Caesar had experts measure the length of the year to correct this problem.
They determined that a year lasts 365.25 days.
The solution was then to make February have 28 days with a leap year occurring every four years.
On a leap year, the month of February would have 29 days.
Over the centuries, it became clear that the Julian calendar wasn’t correct either.
Pope Gregory XIII decided to make a new calendar.
They measured the year once more and discovered that the length of a year is actually 365.2425 days.
Furthermore, they decided that a leap year should only occur on years that are divisible by four.
The new calendar, which became known as the Gregorian calendar, is still in use today.
Why Do We Have Leap Years?
If you were born on February 29th or have a fascination with dates, you may wonder why February 29th only occurs every few years.
It’s because the calendar used today utilizes leap years.
A year lasts for around 365.25 days.
To make life easier, the calendar rounds down to 365 days a year.
However, that extra time doesn’t just go away.
The calendar has to account for it at some point.
Otherwise, the seasons start to shift outside of their contained months.
To account for the extra time, every four years, an extra day gets added to the month of February.
February gets the extra day because it’s already the year’s shortest month.
What Would Happen Without Leap Years?
If the Gregorian calendar didn’t include leap years, you may wonder what might happen.
Losing out on a few hours per year may not seem like a big deal, but those hours start to add up.
Without leap years, the seasons would start to shift outside of their norms.
Those who have warm, sunny, July months would eventually find themselves having cold, wintery, July months instead.
While the month would eventually correct itself once more, it could take a very long time to get back to its original state.
Including leap years ensures that the seasons stay in place.
Do Other Planets Have Leap Years?
Yes, other planets have leap years.
Leap years exist because the rotation of a planet on its axis (days) does not line up perfectly with the planet’s orbit around the sun (years).
The moment when a planet finishes its orbit around the sun and the time when it finishes rotating on its axis on the last day of the year are not exactly the same.
This means that there is leftover time that has to be accounted for through leap years.
As such, other planets, like Mars, have leap years too.
What Happens If Your Birthday Is On February 29th?
Leap year babies do occur.
Several children end up getting born on February 29th.
Considering that February 29th occurs almost every four years, you may wonder how leap year babies celebrate their birthdays.
Leap year babies still celebrate their birthdays every year.
They usually choose either February 28th or March 1st to celebrate their birthdays since February 29th isn’t available.
Some leap year babies may go by two ages.
The first is their actual age marked by the birthdate that they choose.
Someone who has lived for 20 years, for example, will say that their actual age is 20 years old.
The other age they might go by is their leap year age.
This is how many birthdays they were able to celebrate on their actual birthdate.
The 20-year-old might say that their leap year age is five, for example.
Since February 29th only comes around every four years, for the most part, many leap year babies end up making those birthdays more significant than their other birthdays.
Since they’re able to celebrate their actual birthdate, they might make it about their leap year age rather than their actual age.
For example, a leap year baby might celebrate that they’re turning five years old even though they’re really turning 20 years old.
As such, leap year babies still have birthdays like everyone else, but their leap year birthday is extra special.
When Is A Leap Year Baby Old Enough To Drive?
Because leap year babies have their official birthdays on February 29th, you may be unsure how the government recognizes them.
For leap year babies, their legal birthdays are March 1st.
Even if the leap year baby chooses February 28th as the day to celebrate their birthday, the government counts March 1st as the next cycle of a leap year baby’s age.
As such, if a leap year baby turns 16 on March 1st, that’s when they become old enough to drive.
When a leap year baby turns 21 on March 1st, that’s when they’re legally able to start buying alcohol and drinking.
How Do You Determine if A Year Is A Leap Year?
There’s an easy way to tell if a particular year is going to be a leap year or not.
All you need to do is divide that year by four.
If the number comes out neat with no decimals, then it’s a leap year.
Every leap year is a year that is divisible by four.
As such, 2020 was a leap year.
20 is divisible by four.
The only exception is when a new century begins.
In this case, the year has to be divisible by 400.
If it doesn’t come out as a neat number, it isn’t a leap year.
That’s why leap years almost always occur every four years.
However, that isn’t always the case.
What Can You Do In The Month Of February?
February is the shortest month of the year.
It’s also on the tail-end of winter.
As such, you may wonder what you can do in February to make the month more enjoyable.
Here are a few things you can do in the month of February.
1. Celebrate Groundhog Day
If you don’t mind embracing one of the silliest American traditions in its history, you can celebrate Groundhog Day in February.
February 2nd is Groundhog Day.
It’s when the famous groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania comes out of its burrow to see its shadow.
If the groundhog does see its shadow, that means there’s going to be six more weeks of winter.
If it doesn’t see its shadow, it means an early spring.
The tradition came out of Europe.
Originally, it was Candlemas Day where Christians would sing and bring their candles to church to get them blessed.
When Germany got a hold of the tradition, they introduced an animal to it.
They’re the ones who stated that if the groundhog sees its shadow, everyone can expect six more weeks of winter.
When German immigrants moved to Pennsylvania, they brought the tradition with them.
The best way to celebrate Groundhog Day is in Punxsutawney.
That’s where the action happens with a real groundhog.
However, you can celebrate the holiday at home, too.
You might watch the movie Groundhog Day or just choose to take it easy and indulge yourself during the final few weeks of winter.
If you do choose to go to Punxsutawney, you’ll find plenty of activities to occupy your time.
While the big event is the reveal of the groundhog, the town has games and events that occur all day long.
It’s worth a visit if you’re bored and run out of things to do in February.
2. Prepare For The Super Bowl
Another big event that occurs in February is the Super Bowl.
It used to be that the Super Bowl aired every first Sunday of February.
That changed in 2022.
Now, every Super Bowl will air on the second Sunday of February.
The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sports events of the year.
It pits two NFL teams against each other to battle it out for the championship title.
The Super Bowl is also a social event.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of football, you’re sure to have fun at a Super Bowl party.
Hosts sometimes have games, bets sometimes get placed, and at the very least, you can expect some food and drinks.
Another aspect of the Super Bowl is the commercials.
The Super Bowl has a reputation for airing some of the strangest and funniest commercials of the year.
A lot of people end up watching the Super Bowl simply for the commercials.
You can also try your hand at hosting a Super Bowl party.
You can bring friends and coworkers together to enjoy the big game.
It’ll be down to you to determine what food gets brought and who is in charge of the alcohol.
You can also decide if you want to include games or if you want the focus to be on watching the game.
No matter if you want to spend time with friends or watch the game, the Super Bowl is one of the highlights of February.
3. Winter Carnivals
Another great thing you can do in February is head to a winter carnival.
Most cities have some form of winter carnival that you can attend.
If you live in an area that doesn’t see a lot of snow in winter, it’s worth heading to a state that does.
Winter carnivals usually have activities related to winter in some way.
For example, you might have an ice carving competition that you can watch or take part in.
There might be sledding races or just sledding in general.
Polar plunges are also common where you strip down to your swimming suit and jump into freezing cold water.
There’s also usually live music or at least a DJ.
Food is usually available, too, and hot drinks to stay warm.
Most winter carnivals have activities for children, too.
Depending on the carnival in question, you may have light shows, celebrity performances, or other big events.
Some winter carnivals are free while others require you to purchase a ticket.
If you need to get outside, attending a winter carnival is a fun way to spice up your February.
4. Learn About The Civil Rights Movement
A final thing you can do in February is to learn about the Civil Rights Movement.
February marks Black History Month.
It’s no better time to learn about the history of your fellow Americans.
There are usually quite a few different Civil Rights events that occur during February.
You can also visit museums that have exhibits showcasing the Civil Rights Movement.
If you want to make a trip out of it, you should head to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
Not only does it have a wide collection of exhibits featuring the Civil Rights Movement, but it’s also an interactive experience.
There are several interpretive performances that occur throughout the Institute to help enlighten visitors about human rights.
If you want to spend your February doing something important, learning about the Civil Rights Movement and supporting black-owned businesses is a great way to start.
February is a unique month in that it’s shorter than the others.
It’s short due to how the Romans perceived even numbers and their miscalculation of the length of the year.
Although February is still in the grips of winter, there are plenty of activities and events that you can enjoy during the year’s shortest month.