Every four years there is an extra day, Feb. 29, on our yearly calendar. For 2016, that’s Monday.
Known as Leap Day, I decided to remind myself (and all readers) of the origins, since my astronomy days are too long ago to remember.
Speaking of astronomy, I took the class in college thinking it would be easy. After all, I reasoned, how hard could it be to learn about the planets and stars? Ha!
Those two semesters were among the toughest classes — especially the labs — I took in all four years. But I digress …
It actually takes the Earth 365.2421 days to orbit the sun. Apparently, the Egyptians were the first to realize the gap.
In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar and the then famous astronomer Sosigenes revamped the calendar and called the new calendar the “Julian Calendar.”
I’m sure the astronomer was the one who did all the work, but Caesar was happy to take the credit and lend his name to the new calendar.
Experts say there were still issues with the calendar, resulting in an 11-minute surplus every year. By the 14th century, there was a 10-day surplus.
So in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII revised the calendar. Well, it was probably his team of astronomers who did the revising, but it of course was called the “Gregorian Calendar.”
Experts say that the calendar is still not perfect and likely will need to be revised in 10,000 years.
Wow. Wonder who the leader will be at that time and what the new calendar will be called?
I remember growing up and knowing a few children who were born on Leap Day.
I didn’t understand the whole thing, but knew they could only celebrate their “actual” birthday once every four years.
I could relate to this a bit since my birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. That meant school was always out for Christmas break (we didn’t call it winter break back then).
My friends were usually out of town or with family during that week, which meant it was not a good time to have a party.
I remember wondering what it would be like to have birthday cupcakes at school. Of course, all of us who have birthdays around Christmas know about the dreaded “combo” gift.
“Merry Christmas” and “happy birthday” shouldn’t be on the same gift tag. My parents just happened to not be big “birthday people,” and I knew it wasn’t right to ask for the extra attention and “stuff,” when I had everything I did.
Fast forward to when I met Paul and we began getting to know each other. Even from that first year when we were dating, Paul always made a big deal about my birthday.
And that stayed true when our children were babies and the holidays were such a crazy time for families.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, we also made a big deal about our children’s birthdays. Paul used to say their birthdays were like Hanukah — there was a family party, a party with the grandparents, and a party with some of their friends. There were usually a few sleepovers.
Three of them have birthdays during the school year, so there were cookies or cupcakes in the classroom, as well as a special lunchtime visit from their dad.
Even though it was extra work (and money), I loved making their birthdays as special as possible. And I’m thankful Paul always made mine so special too — no combo gifts ever.
Any readers out there — or their children — Leap Day babies? How have y’all handled it?
If Monday is anybody’s actual birthday, I hope it’s a magical one. Happy birthday!
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.