Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day

To paraphrase Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, anything different is good. So it's fun when every four years the calendar is suddenly out of whack and we throw in an extra day.

You'll see stories all over the news about births and birthdays today. A set of twins will get top billing. In the Union-Sun & Journal today, we had a story about a woman from Lockport who was born on Leap Day 1952 ... who then gave birth to a daughter on Leap Day 1976. The odds are pretty low, to say the least.

Here's a fun little rant (warning: rather vulgar) by a girl who just doesn't "get" why we have Leap Day. I understand that there are some people in society who aren't that bright, but I have a feeling she's acting. God, I hope she's acting.

She does have one good point, though, actually. Most of the months have 30 and 31 days. Makes sense. If you take 365 (days in a year) and divide by 12, you get 30.4. So most months should be 30 days with a few 31. Why, then is February 28?

As it turns out, it's the Roman's fault. Or at least that's the explanation in this Salon.com story. But the calendar has undergone several changes over the past couple millenia. Why didn't one of those changes incorporate the leveling out of the months? Take two of the months have that 31 days and make them 30 days. Give those days to February.

Of course, that creates its own problems.

Sadly, I don't know what months have 30 days and what have 31. I don't know the rhyme and I never figured out the knuckle thing either. That's why I buy calendars. But diligent research (Wikipedia) tells me that January, March, May, July, August, October and December have 31 days.

Well, you obviously can't take Halloween off the calendar. Nor can you delete New Year's Eve. That leaves January, March, May, July and August from which to borrow. Personally I think January and March would make the most sense. Winter months should be shorter.

Except what about people whose birthdays are on Jan. 31 and March 31? Would they just not have any more birthdays (thereby not get any older)? Or would you move their birthdays to Feb. 1 and April 1? It would make (April) fools out of a whole lotta people. Would you have to change their birth certificates? I mean, really, how would all the logistics work?

In the end, it would be a lot better. But you'd still have an extra day every four years. I wouldn't add it to February, though. Put it in June or September where we can enjoy it!

Hope you're Leap Day was worth waiting four years for.