Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007-2013. Please give credit where credit is due.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Happy Leap Year's Day

Five degrees at 8:30am. All the windows are open and the sound of Carmine's streams is trickling in. It will probably be a carbon copy of yesterday. Which is odd, and I'll tell you why...

Today is Leap Year's Day.

You : Oh, no it isn't.
Me : Oh, yes it is.
You : Oh, no it isn't, it's only 24th February today, not 29th...
Me : That's what I mean...

Now I know I live half way up a mountain with no tv, and I've been alone for a week. I know I've started talking to myself, the cats and the chicks, even, on occasion the neighbours, but I'm really not going doolally.

We all know the basic Leap Year theory, don't we. The tropical year is about 365.2425 days long and if we had a uniform year of 365 days we'd be out of synch with the seasons in a relatively short space of time. Would be a bit odd to be doing Easter bunnies and fluffy yellow chicks surrounded by the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, now wouldn't it?

The extra .25 of a day (roughly) is rounded into a full day every four years (usually) and dropped into the calendar in February. For most of us, the extra day seems to be the one that's not there in non-Leap-Year Februaries (i.e. 29th). But in fact, the extra day is quietly inserted after the 23rd, that is, the 23rd day of February is doubled. While for those of us who rely on numbers, computers, dates and times to tell us where we are in the universe, Leap Year's Day isn't until next Friday, it has in fact been slipped in under cover of last night's darkness. This is how it works :

Friday 22nd -->22nd
Saturday 23rd --> 23rd (with me so far? okay - here comes the tricky bit...)
Sunday 24th --> second 23rd (called the bissextile day)
Monday 25th --> 24th
Tuesday 26th --> 25th
Wednesday 27th --> 26th
Thursday 28th --> 27th
Friday 29th --> 28th
Saturday 1st --> 1st

See what I mean?

Why do we add the extra day in February? The Romans (who instituted the Julian calendar) began their new year in March, so it made sense to them when it became obvious they needed an extra day to tag it onto the end of their year. Then along came the Christians and demanded that between Christmas, a fixed date, and Easter, the original Moveable Feast, there should be the same number of Sundays - i.e. the same number of masses said. And some very smart person indeed worked out, probably using an abacus and a copy of the Benito Mussolini Perpetual Calendar, that the extra Sunday could be achieved by doubling the sixth day before the start of March (bi-sex-tile).

If you're interested, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (the spring equinox being defined for Church purposes as 21 March).

I have two questions.

When the clocks move back in autumn, and we are treated to an extra hour, many people while away that extra hour in bed. But what will you be doing today, given that you're being handed a whole 24 hours for free?

Second, if girls are allowed to propose to boys on Leap Year's Day, and if the boy must accept or pay for the girl's trousseau, how much money will the worldwide fraternity of lawyers make fighting lawsuits when the boys find out the girls got the day wrong and try to wriggle out of it?

Today is a no-name day. A day out of time. A gift of extra time. Enjoy it if you can.

2 comments:

Gypsy at Heart said...

Did they come? Did they come? How was the reunion? I'm dying to hear. Was it as good as having a little chick in hand for the very first time? Goodness, I thought you were going to post about it. Still, all this arcana (at least for me though of course I know about leap year and when it came about) was quite an interesting read. I too wish my son could see your chicks. Thank you for the lovely wish to have him over. I'd take you up on it if we were not half a world away. Here's to hoping your extra day is extra special with all your little chicks back in the fold Louise.

Milena

Louise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Happy Leap Year's Day

Five degrees at 8:30am. All the windows are open and the sound of Carmine's streams is trickling in. It will probably be a carbon copy of yesterday. Which is odd, and I'll tell you why...

Today is Leap Year's Day.

You : Oh, no it isn't.
Me : Oh, yes it is.
You : Oh, no it isn't, it's only 24th February today, not 29th...
Me : That's what I mean...

Now I know I live half way up a mountain with no tv, and I've been alone for a week. I know I've started talking to myself, the cats and the chicks, even, on occasion the neighbours, but I'm really not going doolally.

We all know the basic Leap Year theory, don't we. The tropical year is about 365.2425 days long and if we had a uniform year of 365 days we'd be out of synch with the seasons in a relatively short space of time. Would be a bit odd to be doing Easter bunnies and fluffy yellow chicks surrounded by the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, now wouldn't it?

The extra .25 of a day (roughly) is rounded into a full day every four years (usually) and dropped into the calendar in February. For most of us, the extra day seems to be the one that's not there in non-Leap-Year Februaries (i.e. 29th). But in fact, the extra day is quietly inserted after the 23rd, that is, the 23rd day of February is doubled. While for those of us who rely on numbers, computers, dates and times to tell us where we are in the universe, Leap Year's Day isn't until next Friday, it has in fact been slipped in under cover of last night's darkness. This is how it works :

Friday 22nd -->22nd
Saturday 23rd --> 23rd (with me so far? okay - here comes the tricky bit...)
Sunday 24th --> second 23rd (called the bissextile day)
Monday 25th --> 24th
Tuesday 26th --> 25th
Wednesday 27th --> 26th
Thursday 28th --> 27th
Friday 29th --> 28th
Saturday 1st --> 1st

See what I mean?

Why do we add the extra day in February? The Romans (who instituted the Julian calendar) began their new year in March, so it made sense to them when it became obvious they needed an extra day to tag it onto the end of their year. Then along came the Christians and demanded that between Christmas, a fixed date, and Easter, the original Moveable Feast, there should be the same number of Sundays - i.e. the same number of masses said. And some very smart person indeed worked out, probably using an abacus and a copy of the Benito Mussolini Perpetual Calendar, that the extra Sunday could be achieved by doubling the sixth day before the start of March (bi-sex-tile).

If you're interested, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (the spring equinox being defined for Church purposes as 21 March).

I have two questions.

When the clocks move back in autumn, and we are treated to an extra hour, many people while away that extra hour in bed. But what will you be doing today, given that you're being handed a whole 24 hours for free?

Second, if girls are allowed to propose to boys on Leap Year's Day, and if the boy must accept or pay for the girl's trousseau, how much money will the worldwide fraternity of lawyers make fighting lawsuits when the boys find out the girls got the day wrong and try to wriggle out of it?

Today is a no-name day. A day out of time. A gift of extra time. Enjoy it if you can.

2 comments:

Gypsy at Heart said...

Did they come? Did they come? How was the reunion? I'm dying to hear. Was it as good as having a little chick in hand for the very first time? Goodness, I thought you were going to post about it. Still, all this arcana (at least for me though of course I know about leap year and when it came about) was quite an interesting read. I too wish my son could see your chicks. Thank you for the lovely wish to have him over. I'd take you up on it if we were not half a world away. Here's to hoping your extra day is extra special with all your little chicks back in the fold Louise.

Milena

Louise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.