February 30

Originally published on February 29, 2004.
Last updated on June 5, 2016.

Every
Year
February 30 occurs on some calendars but not the Gregorian calendar, where the month of February contains only 28 days, or 29 days in a leap year.

February 30 is usually used as a sarcastic date for referring to something that will never happen or will never be done.

45 BCE
to
8 BCE
Myth: The Julian calendar February had 30 days in leap years from 45 BCE until 8 BCE when Augustus took a day from February and moved it to the month of August, named after him.

Johannes de Sacrobosco, also written Ioannis de Sacro Bosco (c. 1195–c. 1256), a scholar, monk and astronomer at the University of Paris, claimed that in the Julian calendar February had 30 days in leap years from 45 BCE until 8 BCE, when Augustus Caesar allegedly shortened February by one day to give that day to the month of August named after him so that it had the same length as the month of July named after his adoptive father, Julius Caesar. However, all historical evidence refutes Sacrobosco, including dual dates with the Alexandrian calendar (also known as the Coptic calendar), implemented by Augustus in 25 BCE.

1712 February 30 was a real date in Sweden in 1712, the only known actual use of February 30 in a calendar.

Instead of changing from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar by omitting a block of consecutive days, as had been done in other countries, the Swedish Empire planned to change gradually by omitting all leap days from 1700 to 1740, inclusive. Although the leap day was omitted in February 1700, the Great Northern War began later that year, diverting the attention of the Swedes from their calendar so that they did not omit leap days on the next two occasions and 1704 and 1708 kept leap years.

To avoid confusion and further mistakes, the Julian calendar was restored in 1712 by adding an extra leap day, thus giving that year the only known actual use of the 30th of February in a calendar. That day corresponded to February 29 in the Julian calendar and to March 11 in the Gregorian calendar.

The Swedish conversion to the Gregorian calendar was finally accomplished in 1753, by omitting the last 12 days of February.

1929
to
1940
Myth: February 30 existed in the Soviet Union from 1929 to 1940.

Although many sources erroneously state that 30-day months were used in the Soviet Union for part or all of the period from 1929 to 1940, in fact the Soviet calendar with 5- and 6-day weeks was used only for assigning workdays and days of rest in factories. The traditional calendar remained for everyday use: surviving physical calendars from that period show only the irregular months of the Gregorian calendar, including a 28- or 29-day February so there was never a February 30 in the Soviet Union.

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