February 29

Being born on February 29 I have always had an interest in the calendar and the mechanics of Leap Year. Since I am sure everyone knows about Leap Year, I will just rattle off a few trivia questions to stimulate the memory. Why was I excited about my birthday in 2000 when everyone knew it was a Leap Year, being 4 years after 1996? When I lived in Brazil, everyone referred to Leap Year as bissextile. What was that all about? After the Gregorian reform in 1582, how come George Washington’s mother recorded his birth in their family bible as 11 February 1731 when we say it is 22 February 1732 (whereas Abraham Lincoln’s mother recorded 12 February 1809 for her son, which we agree with)? See February 29.

Update (2/29/2020) The Leap Year situation keeps drawing interest. The latest is a proposal by two Johns Hopkins professors to do away with “leap days” (but replace them with “leap weeks”!). The only benefit is to be able to line up week days with the annual calendar so that they would not precess over the years. See Permanent Calendar.

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