Leap Year 2020

Have you ever wondered why we have a Leap Year? Who created this extra day?  Why February and not some other month like April or June, which have thirty days and can easily take an extra day for 31  

Leap Year is a relic of ancient astronomy. According to Stephen Wood of History.com, ancient calendars often had a 23-day intercalary or “extra month.” These extra months were based on the position of the moon as well as the Earth’s location relative to the sun. Originally, calendars were designed to track the Earth’s movement around the sun and ancient astronomers were extremely good at their jobs.  

The Earth revolves around the sun 365.24 days and yet, a traditional calendar only accounts for 365 days. Therefore, there is a few hours gap each year as a result of the 365-day calendar.  As a result, ancient astronomers created the intercalary to deal with this.  

However, you may be asking, “Why February?” Julius Ceasar, that’s why. The father of the modern calendar decided the perfect calendar was created by the Egyptians. Egyptian solar calendars had 365 days and included one extra month. February was chosen to include the leap day as it was already a month where Romans added extra days.   

Despite this attempt to account for the extra hours it takes for the Earth to revolve around the sun each year, the Julian (named after Ceasar) calendar, over the course of a century, made the equinoxes and solstices shift 24 days every century. As a result, Pope Gregory XIII expressed dismay that Easter was getting further and further away from the Spring Equinox.  

Thus, the Gregorian calendar (the calendar that is used to this day) was born. Gregory kept Leap years and stipulated that they occur every four years and on years that begin a new century, in order to have a Leap day, the year must be divisible by 400. If the year is divisible by 100 evenly, it is not a Leap Year.  In other words, if you lived at the start of the 20th century (1900), there was no Leap Year, but the year 2000 was divisible by 400 and thus, had a Leap Year.   

Leap years are full of lore. Most famously, Leap Year is associated with Bachelor’s Day, as it is known in some countries. Bachelor’s Day is a day where women propose to men. This tradition is most identified with Ireland, St. Bridget, and St. Patrick (yes, that St. Patrick).

But if Ireland is an expense that you can ill-afford, plan a trip in four years to Anthony, Texas. Anthony is the self-proclaimed “Leap Year Capital of the World” with a festival that begins before the end of February and goes to March. This year, it is scheduled for February 28th until March 2nd, 2020. Additionally, Leap Year can also be a time of great superstitions around livestock and weddings. According to Breakingnews.ie, many countries have traditions that suggest Leap Year is a day that is inauspicious, full of death.  

Whatever your stance on Leap Year, it’s undeniably an important tradition that keeps our calendars aligned with the stars. Makes you wonder how “30 Days Hath September” would have been if a different month had been chosen. If you are looking for funny sitcom takes on Leap Year, June Thomas of Slate.com has some suggestions and Leap Year (2010) and The Proposal (2009) are always great watching 

Written by Simone

Edited by Ryan

Works Referenced 

Elder, Lane. “Why 2020 is a Leap Year.” AJC.com, Atlanta Journal 

Constitution, https://www.ajc.com/news/why-2020-leap-year/RSms7VzmjoNP2C1CLrxp5I/. 

Thomas, June. “Which Sitcom did Leap Day Best?” Slate.com, 2012.03.01.   http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/03/01/leap_day_sitcom_episodes_which_is_the_best_one_.html  

Unknown. “9 Leap Year Traditions –and Superstitions- from Around the World.” Breakingnews.ie, 

Landmark Digital. https://www.breakingnews.ie/discover/9-leap-year-traditions-and-superstitions-from-around-the-world-723031.html. Accessed 26/2/2020. 

Wood, Stephen. “5 Things You May Not Know About Leap Day.” History.com, The History 

Channel, https://www.history.com/news/why-do-we-have-leap-year.

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Movember Reads

Happy Movember!

Movember is an annual event (involving mustaches and beards, of course) meant to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Movember aims to increase early cancer detection, battle the struggles of mental health and suicide, and reduce the number of preventable deaths. Check out their website here: https://us.movember.com/.

In honor of Movember, let’s take a look at some books in the UGL’s collection that involve everything facial hair!

One thousand beards: A cultural history of facial hair

A history of facial hair that documents its ebs and flows in our culture! The book showcases different styles, has information on self care, and shows pictures of famous beards!

Mustache shenanigans: Making Super Troopers and other adventures in comedy

A history and description of Jay Chandrasekhar’s experiences and perspectives when creating Super Troopers (1 and 2). Part humorous memoir and part film study!

Hair: Styling, culture and fashion

An exploration of hair styling, culture, and fashion. The book offers an examination of the social importance of hair, wherever it grows, and examines the different self-expressions and social identities that form from the expression of our hair!

Plucked: A history of hair removal

Examines the different forms of hair removal throughout the decades, from homemade lye depilatories to diode lasers and prescription pharmaceuticals. The book questions why we remove hair (an astonishingly American belief), and examines the unsettling lengths that Americans will go to when removing hair!

Check out these glorious beards! Some of the UGL’s favorites:

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