Take Advantage of Extra Time

Friday, February 29, 2008
by LuAnn Womach

If you pay close attention to what people say, it seems most think they don't have enough time to accomplish everything.

I admit, I am a guilty party. I always find time to write, but I could always use more. If my daily routine is thrown off kilter because of something related to the farm or if I'm needed to substitute in an area school, I silently brood and wonder how I'm going to make up the time I'm missing from my daily routine.

Okay, so maybe that's a little obsessive-compulsive, but after spending so many years wanting to write on a full-time basis, and now having that opportunity, I become a wee bit territorial when something - or someone - trespasses on my time.

But since today is Leap Day, I'm going to take advantage of the extra 24 hours extended to my schedule and fill it with writing activities that I've been putting off until 'when I have more time.'

Why do we have a Leap Year? It's simple. Using a calendar with 365 days each year would result in a loss of time - .2422 days or six hours - to be exact. If we followed this pattern for 100 years, the calendar would be more than 24 days ahead of the season. By adding a leap year every four years, the difference between the calendars and the seasons reduces, allowing the calendar to align with the seasons on a more accurate basis.

In the Gregorian calendar, leap years are determined by three criteria:
  • Every year divisible by 4 is a leap year
  • Of those years, if it is divisible by 100, it is not a leap year, unless...
  • the year is divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.

Confused? It's okay, I was too, but, by following the criteria, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300, and 2500 are not leap years. What about 2000 and 2400? Leap years. Definitely.

While no calendar system is perfect, the Gregorian calendar, which we use today, comes the closest. But do note: we lose one full day's worth of productivity in 3,236 years.

I guess I'll have to learn to deal with it.

Many traditions and folklore surround the addition of the extra day. In some areas of the world, a tradition was born on this day: a woman could propose to marriage to a man, and if he declined, he would have to pay a penalty. The tradition originated in from an old Irish legend noting that St. Bridget struck a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men every four years.

Several interesting historical events have taken place on Leap Day. In 1692, the first accusations began during the Salem Witch trials. The first 'walk/don't walk' street signs were installed in the Big Apple on this date in 1952. And in 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Academy Award. She portrayed 'Mammy' in Gone With the Wind.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Wow, LuAnn. This is some interesting information on Leap Year. Thanks for sharing! And that Irish tradition is hilarious: "a woman could propose marriage to a man, and if he declined, he would have to pay a penalty." Hmmm... what's the penalty? A public flogging, LOL.

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