The calendar is one of the most amazing creations of humankind. Including its most obvious of utilities (keeping track of our days and seasons) the calendar is a validation of scientific principles, such as the correct application of the process of predictability – which is to say, a good scientific theory will make certain predictions as a means of testing its validity. So by most measures, the accuracy of The Gregorian Calendar is a pretty damn good system. One big reason why the calendar works as well as it does is because of the concept of Leap Day and Leap Years.
Unless you are still using an abacus instead of a computer, then you know that February 29 is the Leap Day of The Gregorian Calendar. Since this irregular day will be upon us shortly, I thought I’d consolidate some interesting tidbits about February 29.
So I did, and in no particular order, here are the tidbits that caught my attention:
– We have it burned in our brains that Leap Day occurs every four years. This is mostly true, however there is an exception: there is no Leap Day on years ending in ’00, with the exception of ’00 years divisible by 400 (such as the year 2000.)
– There are efforts occurring in US universities where researchers are trying to come up with alternative calendars to ultimately replace The Gregorian Calendar, thereby eliminating the need for Leap Day and Leap Years. Here is the recent SciAm article about this very subject.
– In the early 1700’s in Sweden, they had their own calendar for about a dozen years, and their Leap Years also included February 30!
– February 29 is also known (in some circles) as Saint Oswald Day. And so it is said … in the year of our Lord 992, “On Leap Year Day, February 29, he died after kissing the feet of the 12th man and giving a blessing.” (May The Lords and Saints Preserve Us!)
– Superstitious Grecians (people from Greece) consider Leap Year an unlucky year to get married, and don’t even think about getting married on February 29th in Greece!
– Legend has it that Christopher Columbus took advantage of a lunar eclipse on February 29 in 1504 to get himself out of a perilous situation.
– It is reported that Leap Day has tripped up Google. Their ‘Blogger’ program will not allow existing users born on February 29 to update their profiles, an annoyance to leapers (people born on February 29) who use social media. The company plans to fix the glitch, but we shall see!
– Here is a stupid astrology thing about people born on February 29. I know ‘stupid astrology’ is redundant, but I’m taking liberties today.
And finally … on more of a personal note …
– On February 29 in 1980, Gordie Howe of The Hartford Whalers scored his record-setting 800th career goal. I mention this because I am forever a Whaler’s fan, even though the team is 15 years gone.
Happy February 29th everyone! Lets do this again in about 4 years!