Ah yes, today is February 29, the day we fulfill our leap year obligation. Of course this wacky date would coincide during a year where we have a presidential election, the summer Olympics, and, most importantly, a big wedding in June. No bones about it, 2016 is a huge year and we are somehow already two months into it.
I appreciate that we continue to honor the occasional February 29 solely because of the poor people who were born on the date. Although I know most babies who entered the world on Leap Day will celebrate their birthdays on February 28 or March 1 on non-leap years, I can only imagine that it probably just isn’t the same.
With that said, I have an overall negative opinion surrounding February 29 for one major reason…
It sabotages the clean tracking of time.
I am a concrete sequential person, meaning I like everything organized and quantitative. I love putting into perspective the passage of time. Believe me, I haven’t kept a journal for close to two decades nor checked Timehop on a daily basis for nothing. If possible, I would take the liberty to say “exactly five years ago today I learned to salsa dance” or “13 years ago today I aced my accounting test” but both examples are inaccurate (besides the fact that both events never happened in the first place).
You see, the leap year negates a very common way of thinking. Let us say that yesterday (February 28, 2016) I won $1,000,000 dollars. On February, 28, 2017, I will not be able to say “exactly one year ago I won a lot of money.” Unfortunately, It is completely inaccurate to make that statement. The Leap Day screws this all up. A whole year, 365 days, would have passed on February 27.
Let me give you another example of how messed up this is. Most would assume that when I celebrated my 29th birthday, I had lived 10,585 days (365 x 29). In reality, because of Leap Days, I had actually lived 10,592 days. It drives me bonkers!
Each time we say something along the lines of “exactly 12 years ago this happened…” or “16 years ago today this occurred…” we are completely wrong. I hate it.
Of course I am well-versed in how historians and others get around this messy problem. You simply say “on today’s date in 1986” or “back in 1979 on this date” etc. This is all fine and good but it doesn’t begin to address the fact that millions of people don’t think this way. Most will believe that February 29, 1988, happened exactly 28 years ago today. Not so. Maybe 28 years and a week ago, but not 28 years exactly.
Now believe me, I know why we have leap years. They help hold our calendar together in other ways. I mean how else are we going to control the way the planet moves on its axis? However, the fact that it messes up the congruent passing of time in years bothers me. Then again, perhaps I should have more pressing and relevant problems keeping me up at night. Don’t Blink.