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Why is February The Shortest Month of the Year?

First Posted: Feb 28, 2014 05:37 PM EST
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Let's start with what we know. February is the second month of the year. It's also both the shortest month of the year and the only month that is less than 30 days. Additionally, it's also the only month to be affected by leap year. And February is also derived from the Latin word februum. Also, according to TimeandDate.com februum "means purification because the month was a time for purification."

But did you know that it is both the second month of the year according to the Julian and Gregorian calendar? February used to never exist... that's right. It just didn't. The old Roman calendar only including 10 months out of the year. January and February, winter months obviously, were eighty-sixed because winter didn't sit well with the Romans. They hated the cold just like the Lancasters did in Game of Thrones.

Due to the vast amount of cultures and thus languages in Europe, February has had a ton of different names. In Middle English it was called Februarius. In Latin it was referred to as Februarius mensis -- Month of February. Just to be confusing, February was also called dies februatus or "Day of Purification" in Latin as well. Old English speakers called the second month of the year Solmonath, which means mud month. 

The Day of Purification held host to a lavish Roman festival of purification according to the crowl.org. The festival was held on Feb. 15 each and every year. 

Now why is February so short? Well, it's short in order to harmonize it with the solar year. When February only has 28 days, like it does this year, it occurs in a common year. Common years occur three times in a four year period. Thus, leap years occur only one time in a four year span. The next leap year is in 2016. Thus Feb. 29 takes place in a leap year.

Were you born on Feb. 29? If so, when do you celebrate your birthday? Do you celebrate on March 1 or Feb. 28? Or do you just have a mega, one-every-four-years, shin-dig? Let us know in the comments section below.

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