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I could be a teenager


by Jonathan van Bilsen


Thank goodness I was not born on February 29th of a leap year. Although I would only be in my teens, I would have missed out on many birthday presents and parties.

The concept of leap year, adding an extra day to the calendar every four years, has its roots in ancient civilizations' attempts to synchronize the lunar and solar calendars. Early calendars were based solely on the lunar cycle, which consists of approximately 354 days. However, the solar year, based on the Earth's orbit around the sun, is about 365.24 days. This discrepancy led to seasonal drifts, causing festivals and agricultural events to fall out of sync with the actual seasons.

I thought it was a relatively recent addition to our calendars, but apparently, the ancient Egyptians were among the first to recognize the need for a leap year around 4,000 years ago. They added an extra day to their calendar every four years to align it more closely with the solar year. Similarly, the ancient Greeks proposed a cycle of 19 years, including seven leap years, to reconcile lunar and solar calendars. I am glad that did not stick around, as I would not know the date.

In 45 BC, under the rule of Julius Caesar, the Romans further refined the leap year concept with the Julian calendar's introduction. This calendar established the 365-day year with an extra day added every four years, making it a leap year.

It seemed to work great until someone discovered the Julian calendar was about ten days ahead of the solar year. To address this issue, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582.

Most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar immediately, while Protestant and Eastern Orthodox countries adopted it later. For instance, Great Britain and its colonies did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752, resulting in an 11-day adjustment. Russia adopted it even later, in 1918.

Today, the Gregorian calendar is the most widely used civil calendar worldwide, and the concept of leap year remains crucial for keeping our calendars in sync with the earth's orbit around the sun. While minor adjustments may be necessary for the distant future to account for the remaining discrepancy, leap years continue to play a vital role in maintaining the accuracy of our calendars.

I propose a metric calendar, along with metric time. Ten months would make up a year, and ten days would be one month. Each hour would have 100 minutes, and there would be 10 hours in a day. If you agree this to be a viable concept, let me know. We could call it Jon's Excellent Time Concept.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, 'Jonathan van Bilsen's photosNtravel,' on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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