Happy Leap Day! Leap Year in Literature

Just for fun, since it only comes once every four years, I decided to look around for Leap Year-related literature. I was pleasantly surprised at what I found!

The Pirates of Penzance

Having a birthday on February 29th makes you a “leapling”, and sometimes one birthday every four years can get you in trouble!

This is a comic opera that premiered in New York City on 31 December 1879, and is still being performed 140 years later!  Here are some lines from The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty, by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve’no desire to be disloyal,
Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February, twenty-eight

days as a rule are plenty,
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine-and-twenty.
Through some singular coincidence — I shouldn’t be surprised if were owing

to the agency of an ill-natured fairy —
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year,

on the twenty-ninth of February.
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover,
That though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays, you’re
only five and a little bit over !

You can read the entire work here.  I was fortunate enough to see a performance of this in 1981 in San Diego, but at the time I didn’t know enough about it to appreciate its fame and longevity!

Humorous short stories and plays

Tradition said that men should do the asking when it comes to becoming engaged to marry, but during a leap year, a woman was “allowed” to propose marraige. This topic inspired plenty of writers around the turn of the 19th century!

A 1907 short story by John Kendrick Bangs called “The Genial Idiot Discusses Leap Year” appears in The Wit and Humor of America, Volume X of X. You can read this volume here. It is full of surprises, laughter and we can see from the standpoint of 2020 that we’ve come a long way, baby!

The Misses Pringle’s Leap Year: a Comedy in Two Acts, by Amaryllis V. Lord, is a 1912 play which also centers around this theme of women having the “privilege” of proposing marriage–in this case, it is the bachelor parson! You can find it at Amazon and at Forgotten Books.  Here is a blurb about it advertised in another book:

THE MISSES PRINGLES’ LEAP YEAR

A Comedy in Two Acts by Amaryllis V. Lord
Ten females and the apparition of a man. Costumes, modern ; scenery,
unimportant. Plays half an hour. The Misses Barbara, Priscilla and
Betsy Pringle, while scorning matrimony in public, have a secret inclina-
tion toward it, and taking advantage of leap year, each, without the
knowledge of the others, proposes by letter to Deacon Smith with sur-
prising results. Very easy and amusing, requiring no scenery and but
little rehearsing. Price, 7cents

And here is one more, an 1885 play I found on Hathi Trust, called Leap-Year: a Comedy in Four Acts for Nine Characters, by Susa S. Vance. The entire play can be downloaded here. Who knew that Leap Years would inspire so many humorous stories?

I even ran across a lovely 1913 Leap Year song that has the sweetest lyrics!

 

 

 

From this century….

Here’s a cute Tigger and Pooh book called Leap Day, read aloud on You Tube.

Leopold’s Long Awaited Leap Year Birthday is also worth watching. And there are plenty more at LeapYearDay.com where they have gathered together loads of “LEAPIFIED BOOKS.”

For the science side of things, you might want to check out my post from 2016 or this fascinating article !

 

Happy Leap Day!

Does the Science behind Leap Year point to Intelligent Design?

I find it absolutely fascinating and inspiring that our solar system is so orderly!

Our massive planet Earth floats in space, revolving around its sun, travelling a total of 584 million miles at 67,000 miles per hour.  The number of days for one revolution has been consistent for thousands of years to the nearest millionth of a day.  How is that possible?

Could we replicate that kind of unvarying data?  If the top experts of the automotive field raced a car around a track every day using every scientific, technological controls known to man, would they be able to get results as consistent?

There is something Divine and beautiful about this.  To me, it points to an unchanging, faithful God who lovingly created a world of order for his children.

As usual, I also found a significant connection in literature, The Pirates of Penzance, a comic opera.  The story concerns Frederic, who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, and the two young people fall instantly in love. Frederic soon learns, however, that he was born on 29 February, and so, technically, he only has a birthday each leap year. His indenture actually specifies that he remain apprenticed to the pirates until his “twenty-first birthday”, meaning that he must serve for another 63 years.  Bound by his own sense of duty, Frederic’s only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.

Here is a sampling of writings on Leap Year worth checking out, and I leave the best for last.

According to timeanddate.com, Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. It doesn’t take 365 days to circle the sun, it takes 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. So if we didn’t add a day on February 29 nearly every 4 years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year, then after 100 years, our calendar would be off by 24 days.

There are various other calendars that have Leap Years. The Chinese Calendar has 13 months with a leap month added about every 3 years. The Jewish calendar has 13 months in a leap year. There are 29 or 30 days in each month in a Jewish leap year, which has 383, 384, or 385 days. A leap year is referred to in Hebrew as Shanah Me’uberet, or a pregnant year.

The Iranian calendar is slightly more accurate than the Gregorian calendar. Compared with the Gregorian calendar, which errors by one day in about every 3226 years, the Iranian calendar needs a one-day correction in about every 141,000 years. The Islamic Hijri calendar has a 11 leap years in a 30-year cycle. An extra day is added to the last month of the year during the Islamic leap year.

The Hindu calendar includes an extra month, once every three years or four times in 11 years. A leap year in the Ethiopian calendar is similar to the Gregorian calendar in which an extra day is added to the last month of the year every 4 years.

To close with the best: First, an exploration of the various calculations used to define a year. Scroll down about 2/3 of the way.

And my favorite, a fascinating point of view that the calendar has actually always been in place, since before man was created.

…Thought provoking perspectives on time…space…and eternity.

Happy Leap Day!

I find it absolutely fascinating and inspiring that our solar system is so constant that all it takes is one adjustment day every four years to keep things synchronized. There must be something Divine about that.

Here is a sampling of writings on Leap Year worth checking out, and I leave the best for last.

According to timeanddate.com, Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. It doesn’t take 365 days to circle the sun, it takes 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. So if we didn’t add a day on February 29 nearly every 4 years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year, then after 100 years, our calendar would be off by 24 days.

There are various other calendars that have Leap Years. The Chinese Calendar has 13 months with a leap month added about every 3 years. The Jewish calendar has 13 months in a leap year. There are 29 or 30 days in each month in a Jewish leap year, which has 383, 384, or 385 days. A leap year is referred to in Hebrew as Shanah Me’uberet, or a pregnant year.

The Iranian calendar is slightly more accurate than the Gregorian calendar. Compared with the Gregorian calendar, which errors by one day in about every 3226 years, the Iranian calendar needs a one-day correction in about every 141,000 years. The Islamic Hijri calendar has a 11 leap years in a 30-year cycle. An extra day is added to the last month of the year during the Islamic leap year.

The Hindu calendar includes an extra month, once every three years or four times in 11 years. A leap year in the Ethiopian calendar is similar to the Gregorian calendar in which an extra day is added to the last month of the year every 4 years.

In a departure from calendars, let’s look at Leap Day 2012 at Disneyland: for the first time ever, Disneyland stayed open for 24 HOURS today!

To close with the best: First, an exploration of the various calculations used to define a year. Scroll down about 2/3 of the way.

And my favorite, a fascinating point of view that our calendar has actually always been in place since Genesis.

…Thought provoking perspectives on time…space…and eternity.