At least once during every conversation I’ve had today – and most of the ones I eavesdropped on – the topic of today’s date came up.
“It would really stink having a birthday today.”
- “It wouldn’t be that bad. I’d only be 9.5 years old!” (chuckle, chuckle)
“Why would anyone get married on February 29?”
- “Well, if it didn’t work out, you’d only have to remember your mistake every four years!” (chuckle, chuckle)
And my personal favorite: “If you are a salaried employee, you are working free today.”
- “Ha! I’m hourly. Take that all you multiple-diplomas-hanging-on-the-wall co-workers!”
Today I asked myself the same question I ask every four years. Why do we need an extra day, again? So, I went to google. Because you can find anything you need to know by googling. And because, what else was I going to do at work today?
Here’s what I found out at timeanddate.com:
Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days (a tropical year) to circle once around the Sun. If we didn’t add a day on February 29 nearly every 4 years, we would lose almost six hours every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days!
I always thought it was pretty cut and dry. Every four years we add an extra day. Not so! There are other stipulations:
- The year is evenly divisible by 4;
- If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
- The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.
This means that 2000 and 2400 are leap years, while 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300 and 2500 are NOT leap years.
The year 2000 was somewhat special as it was the first instance when the third criterion was used in most parts of the world since the transition from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar. (timeanddate.com)
Okay, but I think we can make it better.
First of all, why does the extra day have to be added to February of all months? Sure it looks short and sweet but it is my least favorite month. It’s cold and well, that’s it. February is very cold. Nothing good happens in the short little month (no offense to my sister-in-law whose birthday is the 13th or my grand-nephew who turned 2 on the 25th). Its only saving grace is Presidents’ Day – a holiday. What else does it have to offer? Groundhog’s Day? Pshaw! Valentine’s Day? Don’t even get me started on that one. I’m just thinking that maybe, if we were going to add a day, let’s add it to June. That’s when the powers-that-be add the leap second (or in December but I’m ignoring that option) when needed (learned that courtesy of timeanddate.com also). I am totally fine with adding a second to February when needed. But a whole day? C’mon all you smartypants scientists, you can figure out a way to make this happen.
Second, why do we need to work? Three out of four years we function very well with only 365 days. Why should every fourth year be different? It should be a day of rest. A day to unplug. Okay, I’m just looking for an excuse not to work. But is it just me or did everyone look extra tired today? I saw a lot of yawning going on. I think we should be able to have one National Day of Sleep. Since it only happens once every four years I don’t think it’s asking very much.
This led me to my next great idea. Borrowing heavily from Jewish custom yet adding a modern flair to it I came up with a Day of Jubilee or a day in which all debt is forgiven and forgotten. Every four years we no longer are slaves to credit card payments. Mortgages get wiped clean. Grudges are let go of. I’d have to mail my nemesis some cookies with a note, “Roses are red, violets are blue, you can’t help but annoy me, but I forgive you.”
Okay, maybe every four years would be a bit too much. We’d collapse our entire financial system and be on the brink of ruin. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Instead, we could stockpile all our extra days and every 100 years have a 24 day celebration of forgiving. No work just a whole lot of pardoning. Of course, in order for me to benefit from this, we’d need to start immediately. That’s why I’m petitioning that our first National 24 Day of Jubilee start next year.
No need to sign names if you agree. Just hit like. I’ll make sure it gets to where it needs to go.