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Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year and the Lame Duck Month

Happy Leap Day! Yay!

If you ask me, Leap Years are more trouble than anything else. For one thing, they screw with people who had the misfortune of being born on Leap Day. How would you feel if you were 25 years old and only had 6 birthdays in your life? Think of the shame.

The whole point of a Leap Year is to make up for the fact that the solar year is actually about 6 hours longer than 365 days. So every four years, we add an extra day to recapture those 4 extra sets of 6 hours, and obviously, the place to put that extra day is in February, since it's already a lame duck month with only 28 days during normal years.

Which brings me to an all important question: why does February gets the shaft on number of days in the first place?

All other months are either 30 days or 31 days, as the following chart illustrates:

Poor February is all alone!

See, February is in a category all its own, and I don't think that's particularly fair.

If we took a day from one of the 31-day months and gave it to February, then February would have 29 days most years, but 30 days every 4 years. That means, instead of being a freak every 4 years, February would be NORMAL every 4 years. And that seems much more fair to me.

So now the question is, which 31-day month do we castrate for the sake of making February normal every 4 years? Can't be December, because that would ruin New Year's Eve, and it can't be October, because that would ruin Samhain. We don't want to shorten Summer, so July and August are out. May is about the most temperate month of the year, so we have to keep as many May days as possible. So that leaves January and March. March is in-like-a-lion and out-like-a-lamb. Do you really want to take away one of those lamb days on the end? I didn't think so. Clearly the only reasonable choice is January. It sits next to February anyway, so I'm sure it won't mind giving up one of its days for the sake of a neighbor. It's what a good neighbor would do.

So that settles it: from now on, January 31 is the new February 1st, and February will normally have 29 days, which is not quite as lame as 28, and come next Leap Year, February will be normal for the first time in its life.

I can't wait for 2012!

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Sarah Bellum said...

My dad's birthday is today. I love it, as I only have to buy a prezzie every four years AND I'm older than my own father.

Sra said...

Yes, it works out rather well when it's a loved one's birthday, doesn't it?

heidikins said...

Hahaha, I love that you made a chart!


Sra said...

Thank you. I was rather please with my chart. I wanted to make a fun diagram showing how to figure out whether a month is 31 or 30 days using your knuckles, but alas, I am no longer a good artist.

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