Why Does Leap Year Not Fall On Dec 32? Here’s The Answer

Why is my lead date February 29th instead of December 32nd?Read more


Have you ever wondered why the extra date for a leap year is February 29th, an odd numbered day in the middle of the year, rather than December 32nd at the end of the year? There’s a simple answer and a slightly more complex answer. .

Let’s start with the simple answer. Some ancient cultures (including early Christians) believed that March was the beginning of the year because the world was created in spring. This means that when the Roman calendar added his one day to his February month, he was actually adding one day at the end of the year. So the simple answer is that it’s because the Romans set their leap day at the end of February.

That’s not exactly true. The Romans added February 24th instead of February 29th. That’s where the more complicated answer begins. The Romans created their calendar by counting backwards from specific times of the month. calendar (March 1st), none (March 7th) and Ides (March 15th). In Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar is famously told to “beware of the day of his murder, also known as the 15th of March.”

If the Romans called the first day of March the Calendar and started counting backwards, the days would progress retroactively as follows: The calendar will be March 1st, the second calendar will be his February 28th, the third calendar will be his February 27th, and so on. Until February 24th, it is the 6th calendar of March. On Leap Day, they added his second 6th day of March and called this “Bisextile Day”, that is, his second 6th day. In various kinds of old documents, we still see people calling his February 29th, which is a leap day, as Androgynous Day.

monk and leap day

This custom of adding a leap day in February continued into the Middle Ages and was taught in monastic classrooms. Written by the Anglo-Saxon scholar Bildfirth of Ramsay in the 11th century explained to his students:”[The bissextile day] It is called so because Screw is “twice”, sextus is the “sixth” and we refer to that year as “the sixth calendar of March.” [February 24] Today and the next day are called “March 6th Calendar” [February 25] Also. “

Bildfahrt’s students were monks and priests who needed to know about leap days so they could correctly calculate religious holidays such as Easter. Easter is difficult to calculate because it is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (in medieval holidays he was March 21st, in modern calculations it was March 20th) .

If you don’t include Leap Days, you’ll also put the Vernal Equinox on the wrong day, and suddenly your parish will be celebrating numerous religious observances on the wrong days, from Ash Wednesday to Lent, Holy Week, and Pentecost. It will be. .

For Bildfahrt and his contemporaries, celebrating these holy festivals on the wrong days was no small problem. they believed Accurate calculation of time is at its very core space fabric.

Bürthfahrt's most famous illustration.
Bürthfurth’s diagram showing the cosmic correspondence between the times of the year and the summer solstice.President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford, CC BY-SA

Bürthfahrt is known for his intricate drawings, and this one (left) is his most famous. This diagram shows the cosmic correspondence between the times of the year (represented in external circuits by astrological symbols) and the positions of the equinoxes and solstices. corner.

Moving to the inner diamond, we see the four elements (earth, air, fire, water), the four stages of human life (youth, young adulthood, maturity, old age), and the four seasons.

The inner diamond is inscribed with the four cardinal Greek directions (north, south, east, and west) and is arranged to spell out “Adam,” which refers to the first man and the humanity of Christ. I am. Taken together, this diagram shows how earthly and heavenly elements are interrelated, balanced by Christ at the center, and bound outwardly by time, which controls and orders the world. Masu.

For Bildfurth and many medieval churchmen like him, calculating dates correctly is more than just properly observing religious festivals, it’s about honoring God’s role in the creation of the universe. is.

Bildfahrt’s Abbey Classroom Even now, almost 1,600 years after the fall of Rome, the simple answer “because the Romans did it” is still appropriate to explain why this leap day is inserted into February. It also shows that it is not.

Leap Day could always have been changed to something more meaningful in the modern calendar. However, this date should have remained his February throughout the Middle Ages, and still does, so an extra day is inserted before the Vernal Equinox and Easter celebrations take place as scheduled.

Looking for something good? Cut through the noise with a hand-picked selection of the latest releases, live events, and exhibitions delivered straight to your inbox every two Fridays. Please register here.conversation

(author:rebecca stevensonAssociate Professor of Old English; university college dublin)

(Disclosure statement:Rebecca Stevenson does not work for, consult, own shares in, or receive funding from any company or organization that might benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations other than an academic appointment. (also not disclosed)

This article is republished from conversation Under Creative Commons Original work.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



Sign up to stay informed to breaking news