Tuesday, February 01, 2005

February 30, 1712

As I was stumbling around the house this morning half-awake, changing all my calendars over to February, I recalled something odd I once read: in Sweden there once was a February 30.

Yes, in Sweden there once was a February 30. Not 28 days, as usual; not 29 days, as in a leap year; but a February with 30 days. Once upon a time, there actually was a February 30.

Seems the idea was to switch Sweden over from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar one inch at a time, by omitting February 29 from each leap year until, 40 years down the road, the transition would be completed. So February 29 was omitted from the year 1700 in Sweden.

The problem was, Sweden was now out of sync with everybody-- one day off from those other countries which retained the Julian calendar, and still far from coming into line with the Gregorian calendar.

Somehow in 1704 and 1708, February 29 was not dropped out of the calendar in Sweden.

Finally they just decided, to hell with it! And so in 1712 two leap year days were added to the calendar in Sweden— February 29 and February 30.

Sweden eventually switched over to the Gregorian calendar in 1753.

And meanwhile, imagine you were born in Sweden on February 30, 1712. I mean, like, you'd be perpetually birthdayless! Bummer!


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