This week's book giveaway is in the Reactive Progamming forum. We're giving away four copies of Reactive Streams in Java: Concurrency with RxJava, Reactor, and Akka Streams and have Adam Davis on-line! See this thread for details.
This behaviour is still present in JDK 1.4.2, however, although it may seem strange, it is not a bug. Check out these excerpts from the Javadoc for java.util.Calendar (I've italicised the bits I think are most relevant):
Field manipulation methods
Calendar fields can be changed using three methods: set(), add(), and roll().
set(f, value) changes field f to value. In addition, it sets an internal member variable to indicate that field f has been changed. Although field f is changed immediately, the calendar's milliseconds is not recomputed until the next call to get(), getTime(), or getTimeInMillis() is made. Thus, multiple calls to set() do not trigger multiple, unnecessary computations. As a result of changing a field using set(), other fields may also change, depending on the field, the field value, and the calendar system. In addition, get(f) will not necessarily return value after the fields have been recomputed. The specifics are determined by the concrete calendar class.
Example: Consider a GregorianCalendar originally set to August 31, 1999. Calling set(Calendar.MONTH, Calendar.SEPTEMBER) sets the calendar to September 31, 1999. This is a temporary internal representation that resolves to October 1, 1999 if getTime()is then called. However, a call to set(Calendar.DAY_OF_MONTH, 30) before the call to getTime() sets the calendar to September 30, 1999, since no recomputation occurs after set() itself.
When computing a Date from time fields, two special circumstances may arise: there may be insufficient information to compute the Date (such as only year and month but no day in the month), or there may be inconsistent information (such as "Tuesday, July 15, 1996" -- July 15, 1996 is actually a Monday).
Insufficient information. The calendar will use default information to specify the missing fields. This may vary by calendar; for the Gregorian calendar, the default for a field is the same as that of the start of the epoch: i.e., YEAR = 1970, MONTH = JANUARY, DATE = 1, etc.
Inconsistent information.If fields conflict, the calendar will give preference to fields set more recently. For example, when determining the day, the calendar will look for one of the following combinations of fields. The most recent combination, as determined by the most recently set single field, will be used.