Why is February the Shortest Month

I was wondering why February only has twenty-eight days. It turns out that it is not quite as simple an answer as you may have hoped! The easy answer is that the Romans believed that even numbers were unlucky. They wanted all the months to be odd numbers either twenty-nine days or thirty-one days. This proves mathematically impossible; to have ten odd months adding up to an odd number, you always get an even number! The new Numa calendar (753BC) had 12 lunar months, adding two more months. He decided that February would be an even month by removing a day from twenty-nine to make it twenty-eight. Now the year had an odd number so was no longer unlucky! However, they only had 355 days in the year and the lunar calendar quickly became out of alignment with the seasons and the solar calendar. Now a leap month was required every three years to realign the seasons. Julius Ceaser  (BC 49) would sort out a solar calendar with eleven months of thirty days or thirty-one days but February was stuck with twenty eight days unless it was a leap year when it had twenty-nine. So perhaps February is lucky in leap years!

The interesting underlying cause of February having twenty-eight days is superstition. It is interesting that superstition still plays a part in peoples lives. From the trivial, it being unlucky to see a black cat or things come in threes to the more serious where people will not venture out of their house because they have a real fear of something bad happening to them. This idea of superstition speaks of how our world is ordered and how what we do might affect that ordering. I believe that when I do things wrong other people can be hurt by my actions, there are real consequences that cannot be denied. However, I want to affirm that God is really in charge. I would want to deny that my choices would make me either luckier or unlucky. I think luck is more a matter of chance and the maths of probability are as good an explanation as any. Often behind superstition is the fear of making things worse or hoping for better things. I have found in my limited experience that making good choices and helping other people in need is a good start to making a more positive world. This is very much affirmed in the Christian faith which reminds us to be generous as God is generous to us. Equally, when we do not get things right we are reminded that God forgives us as we acknowledge what we have got wrong. One of the most corrosive and difficult parts of life is when people will not admit their mistakes. Often people lie to cover up their wrongdoing which often only compounds the original wrongdoing.

The troubles of the world need acknowledging and efforts made to restore fairness and justice. This is the healing and realignment that God desires in the most difficult situations we encounter. This brings some hope in the face of despair.