Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Friday, February 28, 2020

Leapin' Through the Year

I don’t know if you’ve given it much thought, but February is the month in which we get the least amount of sleep. Of course, it’s also the month when we eat the least and work the least. And if you still haven’t figured out why, it might help to mention that this February—and every fourth February—we do all those things a little more than other Februarys.

A year with an extra day in it should provide all kinds of reasons to celebrate, shouldn’t it? An extra day to finish your tax returns. An extra day’s pay for hourly employees (although not so great for salaried folks). And when your birthday rolls around, you’re still only a year older in spite of the extra day.

In 45 B.C., Julius Caesar’s astronomer, Sosigenes, calculated the need for a Leap Year and we’ve been leaping ever since. According to an article in Readers Digest by Brandon Specktor, it takes the earth roughly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to complete one full rotation around the sun. Those extra hours would accumulate and throw us off kilter if we never scheduled a leap year. Without it, we’d eventually be rising as the sun sets and turning in when it rises, like the owls and bats.

The extra day gets our calendar and clock back on track with the sun… well, except for every once in a while when scientists decide we need an extra second as well, like we enjoyed in 2015. (What did you do with yours?) Since 1972, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service has periodically added extra seconds—called leap seconds—on either June 30 or December 31 to compensate for the mismatch between atomic clocks and Earth’s actual rotation.

Now you know.

What you might not know is a little trivia about Leap Day. For example, according to the World Heritage Encyclopedia, the British-born James Milne Wilson, who later became the eighth premier of Tasmania, was born and died on a leap day. Wilson arrived on February 29, 1812, and died on February 29, 1880 at the age of 68. Although you could call it his 17th birthday. What are the odds?

And did you know about the old tradition that says women can propose marriage to men on February 29? If the man refuses, he must give the woman money or buy her a new dress. Leapin’ lizards! I’m glad that one went out of vogue in the early 1900s. I’m pretty sure women can propose to men any day of the year if they wish to. And as to money or a new dress, “no means no” should work both ways.

Finally, should you need a few jokes or riddles for February 29, keep in mind that Leap Day is the day kids play hopscotch, lawyers jump to conclusions, and surgeons perform hoperations. I can hear you groaning from here.

I’m incredibly grateful I’m not the one to calculate when we need an extra day or second to keep our lives orderly. I’m glad we have people smart enough for all that. And I’m even more thankful for a God who holds the universe together with his powerful hand. He is the God of all my days.

“Then God said, ‘Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years…’” (Genesis 1:14)

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