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Bissextile in 2016


Will any leaplings be born this month? I suspect they will. And why do leaplings stand apart from all other babies born in February? To discover why, we have to look to the calendar. You see, the date February 29th only occurs every four years and that’s linked to the rotation of the earth around the sun.

What does Bissextile mean? Well, it’s NOT some sort of sexual orientation, as some might suppose; rather, it is an adjective noting the extra day of leap year, which we celebrate on February 29th.
Did you know that in some societies it’s considered unlucky for a person to be born on a leap day, in the same way that Friday the 13th is considered unlucky by some? And, in Scotland, an even more sobering belief is that it is unlucky to be married in a leap year and, particularly, on a leap day. You might want to consult your calendar, and your country’s customs and traditions, prior to planning your marriage, if you’re the slightest bit superstitious.
In today’s society we use what is called the Gregorian calendar, but there were many other calendars in use before that. For instance, did you know the Julian calendar, which preceded our current calendar, was designed by a relatively unknown mathematician and astronomer named Sosigenes? I refer to Sosigenes as relatively unknown simply because his is not a name we hear in everyday conversation. So…although Sosigenes designed the calendar, it is called the Julian calendar after Julius Caesar, who commissioned the astronomer to create it. Sosigenes suggested a calendar with 365 days and a leap year every four years, assuming a solar year had 365.25 days.
In the 16th century Pope Gregory XIII took the Julian calendar and tweaked it a little bit more—or corrected it, if you will—and thus the Gregorian calendar was born—as it more accurately calculates the length of a solar year. If you’re fascinated by equations and numbers, it breaks down like this—it takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days, or 365 days, 5 hours 48 minutes and 45 seconds to circle once around the sun. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, this span of time is called ‘a tropical year’. Anyhow, without that extra day every four years (called an intercalary day) we would lose almost six hours every year, and after 100 years our calendar would be off by something like 24 days.
So that’s why we have leap year—or bissextile—and that’s why we have leaplings, which is the name ascribed to people born on February 29th.
When do leaplings celebrate their birthday? Do they only get a birthday every four years on February 29th or can they celebrate on another day? And when does a leapling come of age? Well, that depends on the country. Some say legal age is February 28th and some say legal age is March 1st, and when it comes to celebrating their birthday, the choice is up to the leapling.
The Internet is rife with customs and traditions surrounding this special day. For instance, Leap Day customs suggest that this is the day when a woman may propose marriage to a man. According to an old Irish legend, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how leap day balances the calendar. Whether you believe that or not is your choice! Apparently, though, if a woman proposes to a man and he turns her down, he has to give her a gift in exchange. That seems like a fair price for him to pay to possibly escape unforeseen entanglements!
There is a family in Norway that holds the world’s record for most children born on a Leap Day. Karin Henriksen gave birth to three children: Heidi in 1960, Olav in 1964, and Lief-Martin in 1968, and each baby was born on February 29th. The mere fact of it boggles the mind!
So, whether you’re a leapling or a non-leapling, be sure to celebrate this bissextile holiday with a keen eye to the main chance. For women, it could mean a marriage proposal, but if you’re the least bit superstitious, you may want to put that wedding on hold until 2017. For men, consider yourself warned. There could be an unexpected proposal in the offing.

goodmeasure@hotmail.com

What does Bissextile mean? Well, it’s NOT some sort of sexual orientation, as some might suppose; rather, it is an adjective noting the extra day of leap year, which we celebrate on February 29th.
Did you know that in some societies it’s considered unlucky for a person to be born on a leap day, in the same way that Friday the 13th is considered unlucky by some? And, in Scotland, an even more sobering belief is that it is unlucky to be married in a leap year and, particularly, on a leap day. You might want to consult your calendar, and your country’s customs and traditions, prior to planning your marriage, if you’re the slightest bit superstitious.
In today’s society we use what is called the Gregorian calendar, but there were many other calendars in use before that. For instance, did you know the Julian calendar, which preceded our current calendar, was designed by a relatively unknown mathematician and astronomer named Sosigenes? I refer to Sosigenes as relatively unknown simply because his is not a name we hear in everyday conversation. So…although Sosigenes designed the calendar, it is called the Julian calendar after Julius Caesar, who commissioned the astronomer to create it. Sosigenes suggested a calendar with 365 days and a leap year every four years, assuming a solar year had 365.25 days.
In the 16th century Pope Gregory XIII took the Julian calendar and tweaked it a little bit more—or corrected it, if you will—and thus the Gregorian calendar was born—as it more accurately calculates the length of a solar year. If you’re fascinated by equations and numbers, it breaks down like this—it takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days, or 365 days, 5 hours 48 minutes and 45 seconds to circle once around the sun. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, this span of time is called ‘a tropical year’. Anyhow, without that extra day every four years (called an intercalary day) we would lose almost six hours every year, and after 100 years our calendar would be off by something like 24 days.
So that’s why we have leap year—or bissextile—and that’s why we have leaplings, which is the name ascribed to people born on February 29th.
When do leaplings celebrate their birthday? Do they only get a birthday every four years on February 29th or can they celebrate on another day? And when does a leapling come of age? Well, that depends on the country. Some say legal age is February 28th and some say legal age is March 1st, and when it comes to celebrating their birthday, the choice is up to the leapling.
The Internet is rife with customs and traditions surrounding this special day. For instance, Leap Day customs suggest that this is the day when a woman may propose marriage to a man. According to an old Irish legend, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how leap day balances the calendar. Whether you believe that or not is your choice! Apparently, though, if a woman proposes to a man and he turns her down, he has to give her a gift in exchange. That seems like a fair price for him to pay to possibly escape unforeseen entanglements!
There is a family in Norway that holds the world’s record for most children born on a Leap Day. Karin Henriksen gave birth to three children: Heidi in 1960, Olav in 1964, and Lief-Martin in 1968, and each baby was born on February 29th. The mere fact of it boggles the mind!
So, whether you’re a leapling or a non-leapling, be sure to celebrate this bissextile holiday with a keen eye to the main chance. For women, it could mean a marriage proposal, but if you’re the least bit superstitious, you may want to put that wedding on hold until 2017. For men, consider yourself warned. There could be an unexpected proposal in the offing.

goodmeasure@hotmail.com

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