Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap and leap again: February the 30th

In 1699, King Karl XII of Sweden resolved to shift gradually from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian, by means of skipping leap days for four decades until they aligned. This crackpot plan (imagine changing your country’s time zone by two minutes a year rather than doing the whole hour in one go) was knocked off course by the Great Northern War, which broke out the following year.

By 1712, Karl had decided to take Sweden back to the Julian calendar, which entailed having two leap days in that year – as the almanac shows:

People born on February 29th only get one true birthday every four years. But that’s an abundance compared with the people born that 30th who never got to celebrate theirs…

1 comment:

Cassilis said...

Sorry to abuse your comment facility Tom but could you drop me an email (address on my site)? I'll explain why when you do...!