Monday, February 15, 2016

Leap Day

My fourth grade teacher took great joy announcing that her birthday was that Leap Day. She was 12 to our nine and ten.  She giggled, mistaking our faces for amazement.  We knew our times tables.  We were shocked. She looked much older than 48.
While student teaching in an area high school, I met quadruplet boys who were used to being the center of attention.  They proudly announced their birthday fell on Leap Day and bragged about being 4-year old sophomores.  
They acted like it too.
I love Leap Day. It is nature way of letting humans know that everything does not fit into neat little calendar boxes.
One of those boxes is the Gregorian calendar.  To keep up with the natural rotation of the Earth, it adds one day every four years but it still does not keep “perfect time,” so it removes a leap day three times every 400 years. Confusing?  Try this: other calendars keep up with the “natural” year by adding a month every four years. To do this, they have to rearrange the other months. It must wreak havoc on birthdays and anniversaries.  
Some cultures consider a Leap Year unlucky, so few marriages or financial transactions are planned in those years. Since no one wants to be astronomically out of sync, children born in these countries on Leap Days are considered legally born on the next calendar day.  
Come to think of it, this Leap Day whammy may be why my 4th grade teacher looked older than her age or why those high school quads were more annoying than cute.    

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