It’s not like any of us really needs an extra day of February, what with its gloomy skies, blustery winds, manic temperature shifts and Valentine’s candy withdrawal.
Plus, Lent started in February this year, and I’ve given up sweets.
February used to be the last month of the year, way back in Roman times. That’s why it has fewer days than the other months. They tried to divvy up the days equally, but ran out by the time they got to the end.
Then Julius Caesar (Ceaser? That’s one of those words I can never remember how to spell) came along and reorganized the calendar.
Leap year came along to keep the astronomical timekeepers happy. See, a year isn’t exactly 365 days long. It takes the Earth 365 days and 6 hours to get all the way around the sun. That adds up to an extra day every four years. Hence, an extra day stuck in the calendar every four years.
Actually, that’s not true, either. It takes the Earth 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 16 seconds to get around the sun. To make up the difference, we skip the leap years at the end of every century. Unless the end-of-the-century leap year is divisible by 400. Then we observe it.
My head hurts now.
Years that are not leap years are called common years. What sort of sad commentary is that, that we spend most of our lives in boring, old common years?
Why is it called a “leap year” anyway? That doesn’t make sense. If you’re leaping over a day, the year should be shorter, not longer.
People who are born on leap day are called “leaplings,” or “leapers.”
Superman celebrates his birthday on Feb. 29.
Some leapers celebrate their birthdays every year, shifting to Feb. 28 or March 1 in common years. Others only celebrate birthdays every four years.
There is some lively discussion on this point at the website of the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies. John Ahearn of Connecticut (born Feb. 29, 1968) noted that he and his daughter are both turning 11 this year.
Chris Mertens of Ohio (born Feb. 29, 1972) said that having her 10th birthday this year is way better than turning 40.
Sandra (born Feb. 29, 1960) is turning 13, meaning she’s going through puberty and menopause at the same time.
So what should I do with an extra day?
My first thought was that I should clean something, or organize something, or rearrange something.
I could spend the day with my husband, or have an adventure with my kids.
Ooooooo … I could sleep for 24 hours.
But that seems like a waste of a perfectly good Feb. 29.
I could play leap frog.
I could take one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
I could take a quantum leap. An evolutionary leap. A leap of imagination.
I could leap into action. I could leap for joy.
I should probably look before I leap.