Ides, Anyone?

Even people who don’t know anything about Julius Caesar, the man or the play, have heard of the Ides of March. But what the heck is that?  It turns out that ides occurred in every month around the midpoint; these days were sacred to Jupiter. The long months (March, May, October, November) had 31 days and their ides fell on the 15th. The shorter months had 29 days except February, which normally had 28 but some years had only 23 (don’t ask, because I can’t tell), and the ides for those months fell on the 13th. Why the odd figuring of a midpoint? No idea, but I think it has something to do with using Superbowl numerals. By the way, the Roman calendar only accounted for 304 days, so there were sixty or so orphan days between the end of one year’s worth of months (the end of December) and the beginning of the next (the start of March), and those days were assigned to no month at all. I can’t tell where they placed February or quite when it started. I think their problems trace back to drinking wine from lead vessels. Aren’t you glad you never wonder about such things?

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