Today is something that only takes place every 1450 days. A relatively rare event then! Today is a Leap Day – February 29th – that extra day that’s inserted into the calendar every four years.
Why do we have Leap Years? Exactly what is the purpose of adding an extra day to the year? These questions could be a source of existential angst for some. Yet, most of us unquestioningly accept the inclusion of February 29th every four years. The strange phenomenon of a Leap Year serves to avoid calendar chaos and can be understood in scientific terms. The Earth travels around the sun in an elliptical fashion, and it takes roughly 365¼ days to do so, and not the 365 days we have on our calendars. So it’s necessary to add an extra day every 4 years to keep the calendar and solar years in sync. And that’s what February 29th is for.
But that’s not actually the whole story. What I hadn’t realised until researching this, is that sometimes a Leap Year is omitted to keep the calendar properly in sync. Calculated over centuries, the leap year rule needs further adjustment because the length of the solar year is actually about 11 minutes shorter than 365¼ days. This means that a Leap Year is removed three times in every 400 years. It’s done in the century years, the ones that end in double zero. So the year 2000 was a leap year but not the years 1700, 1800, and 1900. All that calculation for 11 minutes! It’s amazing that such a relatively small portion of time can be so significant.
What can you do in 11 minutes? That’s such a small amount of time that most of us can waste quite easily, but yet it big enough to cause calendars throughout history to be altered. Maybe there’s a lesson there for all of us about the value of time? But what of February 29th? How will you use this year’s extra day? In both Canada and the US there’ve been proposals to make Leap Day national days that would encourage people to take the extra day to do some good in the world.
Whatever you do, be sure to make the most of your extra day. Treat it as a day of unlocked potential. Why not answer the ‘Will you or won’t you? Should you or shouldn’t you?’ question with a resounding yes? – whether that be doing something for others, or whether it be treating or challenging yourself.
It’s a perfect day to leap into the unknown, outside your comfort zone, and experience your wings growing on the way down. Dare yourself and take that leap…..