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Some people like leap days. Others want it to go away.


The weirdest non-party of the year is upon us.

Leap Day is a wrinkle in time that goes unmentioned on many wall and desk calendars. People born on February 29 may have difficulty filling out forms or dealing with basic identity questions.

“People didn’t believe me that I was born on a day that didn’t exist,” said Raenell Dawn, born February 29, 1960, describing her school years.

In 1983, while working in retail, Ms. Dawn met a customer who was another leap day baby. “I was so excited to meet him,” she said. Then came a moment of disappointment, when she learned that the man had no special feelings about her birthday.

“He didn’t seem to care at all!” » Ms. Dawn said. “It made me realize: I obtained to find people born on this day, who are happy about this, that get he.”

She created a club for “jumpers” or “leaplings,” as she calls those born on February 29. She recruited the first members through newspaper advertisements (this was in the 80s). Years later, she met Peter Brouwer, a bouncer who had formed a similar club. They joined forces to create the Leap Baby Honor Society.

Ms. Dawn, who lives in Oregon, said she would like to see a leap year and leap day given the dignity of capitalization. To support her argument, she cites Groundhog Day, which is capitalized in dictionaries and news publications.

Ms. Dawn also tries to help the self-hating jumpers take pride in their special status. “They think it’s the stupidest day to be born,” she said. “I answer that February 29 is the most important date on the calendar – it’s the date that keeps all the dates in line. Our birthdays represent balance and harmony.

She said she had also written to calendar makers asking them to print “Leap Day” in the box for February 29. “I haven’t received any response,” Ms Dawn said. “How much does it cost to write seven letters?” »

Some cultures have treated the day as a 24-hour break from cultural norms. In an Irish folk tradition, women propose marriage to men on a leap day. “Leap year”, a 2010 romantic comedy starring Amy Adams, used this premise.

Former New York Times columnist Russell Baker opposed the idea of ​​shifting a leap day’s place on the calendar. In a chronicle from 1968, he wrote that it was “pure masochism to take the perfectly interesting extra day that the leap year gives us and use it to extend the month of February.” His solution? Move it to summer.

“July 32 is no more absurd than February 29,” Mr. Baker wrote.

Chad Orzel, professor of physics and astronomy at Union College and author of “A Brief History of Timekeeping”, said that placing the bonus day at the end of February is “just a tradition”.

“The Romans left it there,” he said, referring to the calendar established more than 2,000 years ago under Julius Caesar.

Leap years came about because the Earth takes just over 365 days to orbit the sun – 365 days, 6 hours and 9 minutes, to be more exact. Without an occasional extra day, a calendar would not be in sync with the seasons.

The ancient Romans were almost right when they added a 366th day every four years. But they had miscalculated the length of a year by 11 minutes. Over the centuries, those 11 minutes can really add up.

The Gregorian calendar – published in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII and still used today – ultimately solved the problem known as calendar drift. It did so by “removing leap year status for three years out of four centuries, except for those divisible by 400,” Mr. Orzel said.

In recent years, time measurement experts have proposed alternative calendars, including one created by two Johns Hopkins University professors, Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics, and Richard Henry, professor of physics and astronomy . THE Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar eliminates leap days and resolves calendar drift with the addition of a full week at the end of December every six years.

“The geeks, the Silicon Valley geeks, like this stuff,” Mr. Hanke said. But in practice, he added, there is no point in abandoning the current format.

Leap-year babies would probably not support the Hanke-Henry calendar, given the treatment of their birthday. But at least they have their own anthem, a song called “2/29” by the San Diego rock band Rookie Card.

Example lines:

So you think it’s hard to be born close to Christmas?

Try to go out on a day that doesn’t exist

In three out of four years

I will no longer have faith

Adam Gimbel, 52, a band member born in September, said he wrote the song after a passing thought: “I wonder if people born on leap day feel like the world looks down on them.”

Her banger was forwarded to Leap Day advocate Ms Dawn, who shared it with her community. This year, Mr. Gimbel made a music video for “2/29”, featuring leap day babies singing the lyrics.

“The funny thing is how many letters I’ve gotten from people saying, ‘You really get us,'” he said.

As for Ms. Dawn, she will be 64 on a leap day – or rather 16.

“Oh, man,” she said. “It feels like Christmas is coming.”


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