As we get set to usher out 2011, which, overall, was a pretty good year for me, comes word that 2012 is a leap year.
This will come as no surprise to those who follow such statistics. I don’t. But somebody told me it was a leap year like I should be excited that there’s one more day added to the calendar.
So that means instead of there being 290 shopping days until my birthday, there are actually 291 shopping days because, as we all likely know, the extra day comes in February, on the 29th.
Why do we have leap years?
A good question, one I asked myself. So I Googled leap year.
According to timeanddate.com, the simple one-line answer is, “Leap years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the earth’s revolutions around the sun.”
I probably should have paid more attention in science class.
Of course, timeanddate.com is not satisfied with a simple one-line answer. The website says, “the vernal equinox is the time when the sun is directly above the earth’s equator, moving from the southern to the northern hemisphere. The mean time between two successive vernal equinoxes is called a tropical year, also known as a solar year, and is about 365.2422 days long.
“Using a calendar with 365 days every year would result in a loss of 0.2422 days, or almost six hours per year. After 100 years, this calendar would be more than 24 days ahead of the tropical year, which is not desirable or accurate.
“It is desirable to align the calendar with the seasons and to make any difference as insignificant as possible.”
The way I look at it, anytime you have to bring mathematics in to explain a situation, you’re taking the fun out of things.
To make matters worse, at least for me, is that because our world uses the Gregorian calendar (named after its founder, noted math whiz and Jeopardy! champion Herbert Gregorian), “new leap year rules will have to be introduced (to make the calendar more accurate), complicating the calculation of the calendar even more.
“It will, however, need some modifications in a few thousand years.”
So, basically, for now, leap year happens every four years, the next one being 2012, and we add an extra day on Feb. 29, giving us 366 days.
I can see why they add it on Feb. 29, given the month only has 28 days, but I think a March 32 would be cool one year, as would April 31.
Hockey Hall of Famer Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard will be celebrating his 19th birthday – look out Montreal pubs! – on Feb. 29. He was born in 1936 (you do the math).
Other famous Feb. 29 babies include singer/TV show hostess Dinah Shore (1916), actor Antonio Sabato, Jr. (1972), rapper Ja Rule (1976) and a pope (Pope Paul III, born 1468).
There are a few people and groups I would like to see take a flying leap in a leap year (or any other year for that matter), especially the Toronto Maple Leafs and anybody named Khardashian.
Speaking of leaps, it will take a huge leap of faith for Montreal Canadiens head coach Randy Cunneyworth to A) guide the Habs to a 25th Stanley Cup in 2012, and B) learn French while doing so.
And maybe my bank account will grow by leaps and bounds in the next 366 days.
Whatever happens in the new leap year, I hope it’s a happy, safe and successful one for all.
And remember: with an extra day in 2012, there’s no excuse for not remembering my birthday, which is in October, 292 days away.
—Roger Knox is a reporter for The Morning Star who gets very few birthday presents… firstname.lastname@example.org