Friday, March 2, 2012

Why Some Years Leap...

(Rudolf Nureyev)
This past Wednesday was February 29th.  2012 is a Leap Year, according to the Gregorian calender.  Every 4 years we experience a Leap Year.  Why? Because it takes approximately 365 days + 6 hours for the Earth to complete a single revolution of the Sun.  With the passing of 4 years, roughly 24 hours is accumulated.  To keep the Gregorian calender in a coordinated count with the positioning of the Sun, an extra day is added at the end of February every 4th year.

(Vishnu; Hindus honor this God during
Adhika Masa - or 13th month.)
A Leap Year is acknowledged in different ways by different cultures.  For example, the Chinese calendar adds its 'leap' every 3 years, and the additions' placement varies from year to year.  Their Leap Year is determined by the monthly New Moon(s).  Count the number of New Moons that occur from the 11th month of one year, through the 11th month of the following year.  If 13 New Moons are counted, a leap month is added.

Similarly, the Hindu calender includes a leap month every 3 years, or 4 times in 11 years.  The added month is referred to as Adhika Masa.  The timing of the added month changes from year to year, allowing their various festivals to happen within a span of time, rather than on specific dates.

Both the Indian National Calender, and the Revised Bangla Calender of Bangladesh, organize their leap days so that they are more closely in the realm of our added date of February 29th.

(St. Oswald)
Some countries have traditions based on the Leap Year.  In Scotland, a tradition was started in 1208, where women were permitted to propose marriage to men.  If the man refused?  The woman would collect a fine. Seems fair to me.  (*grin*)  The Scots also believe that anyone born on a leap day will be in for a lifetime of bad luck.

St. Oswald's Day is celebrated in the U.K.  It honors the Arch Bishop of York, who died on February 29th, 992.  In non-Leap Years, the day is celebrated on February 28th.

For those born on a Leap Day (known as a "leap baby", "leapling"), there is 'The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies'.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, there are impressive records of the number of leap babies born to a family, and the number of leap babies being born consecutively to a family.  (I tried to get some specifics from the Guinness Book site, but couldn't locate any 'leap' related entries.)




(Yes, it's not the original Opera, but it is Rossini...any opportunity to share 'Bugs', and I jump on it.)

For anyone who used Google on Wednesday, you know that Gioacchino Rossini, was born on February 29th, in 1792.  He is known for being a prolific italian composer, best known for his chamber music, operas, and instrumentals for piano.




Some other famous "leaplings":

("Therese Revant" c. 1955;
French-Polish 'Realist' painter, Balthasar Klossowski Balthus, born in 1908)
(Singer/Actress/Talk Show Host, Dinah Shore, born in 1916)
(American Burlesque Star, Tempest Storm, born in 1928)
(Actor/Calvin Klein underwear model, Antonio Sabato, jr, born in 1972)


There is a humorous periodical that has been published in France since the 1890's.  "La Bougie du Sapeur" ("The Sapper's Candle") features comic book character, 'Sapper Camember', a character born February 29, 1844.  Created by Georges Colomb, it has been published every Leap Day since it began.  It is described as being "funny, but not naughty".  It also includes a crossword puzzle, the answers remaining unknown until the next Leap Year's printing.

(If you are wondering what a "sapper" is, a sapper is a combat engineer in the service of the army.  They have many varied duties, such as laying/clearing minefields, constructing roads and airfields, and bridge building.)

(I tried to translate this using an online translator,
but didn't have very good luck.)

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