Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Are You Wearing Your Blue And Yellow?

Happy Leap Day! It's the glorious day when Leap Day Williams emerges from the Mariana Trench and trades children's tears for candy!

Of course, we all celebrate Leap Day in our own special way. Take Richard Conn Henry and Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University, for example, who are proposing that we do away with Leap Day. Now, before you start poking their eyes and pulling their hair, hear them out. Instead, they propose that we go to a 364-day calendar (364 being divisible by 7; everything would be on the same day of the week every year), and every 5-6 years, there would instead be the magical, fantastical Leap Week!

And in Sweden, they still talk of the time when the Swedish Empire, switching from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian, had to move 11 days forward to come into alignment, and in order to do so, canceled Leap Day for the next 40 years. The children were distraught. Would they ever see Leap Day Williams? Would they stop believing in Leap Day? And when February 1700 came with no Leap Day on the calendar, depression reigned over Sweden, and by the end of the month, they had found themselves in the Great Northern War with Russia, Denmark-Norway, Saxony, Prussia and Poland-Lithuania.

But then fate intervened. Sweden was so distracted by the war that they forgot to cancel Leap Day for 1704 and 1708. Leap Day Williams would emerge from the sea after all! And when Sweden subsequently decided to put off switching to the Gregorian and go back to the Julian for the moment, they needed to put back the one day they'd already lost. And so it was that in 1712, children rushed to their calendars to find not one, but TWO Leap Days! There was a February 30! A once-in-a-lifetime February 30! Not even Leap Day Williams himself thought that February 30 was possible! Joy! Joy and celebration reigned throughout Sweden!

You know. And also the war. Which would drag on until 1721 and resulted in the Swedish Empire losing what are now Estonia and Latvia.

Maybe Sweden just wasn't wearing enough blue and yellow.

No comments: