Friday, 29 February 2008
The beginning of March has been postponed until tomorrow. We apologise for any inconvenience. Julius Caesar.
Yes, it's February 29th. If you woke up thinking it was March 1st, then you've got a free day. It also means that the Groundhog wasn't being entirely truthful this year - what he meant to say was "6 more weeks and 1 day of winter". Sorry folks.
It must have been great to be a Roman Emporer. Apart getting assassinated at an early age, the lack of decent medicine, no Internet, etc. But they were seriously powerful. Caesar decided that every fourth February we'd have a leap year, and here we are over 2000 years later following his instructions.
Well, almost. There has been a small change since then, but that's only relevant if you think you'll be alive in 2100. Let me rephrase that. If you're still alive and alert enough to notice in 2100.
When he started his new calendar, he had to add an extra 67 days to the year 46BC. That must have really pissed people off who had annual contracts. Luckily, Christmas hadn't been invented yet. It also must have caused havoc with birthdays. But, he was Caesar, the boss, and if he wanted an extra 67 days, then so be it. As I said, it must have been great to have that power.
The Romans must have had lots of issues with birthdays, though. Maybe they just didn't bother. The system that Julius Caesar scrapped was a year of 355 days, so they had to add an extra leap month about once every 3 years.
Interestingly, Caesar's leap day didn't have a date like February 29th. It was legally the same as the previous day. As if we did February 28th over again. This would have been bad news for Poirot. "Where were you on the night of the 28th?". Which one???
However, I think that it would be good to revive this idea. It would make it easier for people born on a leap day. Not being an emperor yet, I'm proposing a more democratic version. Under my system people will be allowed to choose whether to have the leap day as February 28th or March 1st.
Optimists will plump for March 1st on the grounds that it will be better than the day they've just lived through. Pessimists will choose to repeat the 28th because they believe that March 1st will be worse. Since it's a Friday, I'd go for March 1st. Then I wouldn't have to go into work. To work an extra day that I'm not being paid for.
Oh, well, something else to put on my list for when I'm dictator. I will insist on one thing, though. It will be compulsory to write a blog post on a leap day...