Aloysius’ Amalgamation of Time: How Our Current Calendar Came to Be

Happy Leap Day! I hope that you enjoy this once-every-four-years event that is a 29th day in February however you best see fit. Just make sure that you don’t refer to it as an extra day.

This day isn’t truly extra time, but an accumulation of the time one 365 day period does not cover for a full rotation around the sun. One such solar year is actually 365.2425 days, which is understandably difficult to represent on a calendar with full days. Since it is tough to tack on about a quarter-long day to the end of each year we let it roll into one whole day and throw it into the shortest, shittiest month every four years. Problem solved, right? For the most part, yes, but it is not entirely that simple. I’ll allow some men more well-versed on the subject to explain in more detail just how this day works and how it came to be.

SciShow – “Why Do We Have Leap Years?”

It’s Okay To Be Smart – “Why Does February Only Have 28 Days?”

Those wacky Romans! Always waging war and building their society. Even though the fall of the Western Roman Empire occurred 1540 years ago (the Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantium Empire’s fall occurred 563 years ago), the impact of the Romans is still felt in modern times. The planets of our solar system (except Earth) are all named after Roman deities (and the constellations and moons for Greek mythological beings); water is transferred over great distances, roads are a thing, and other general infrastructure exists; and of course, there’s this calendar business.

The Romans were not alone in this endeavor of course, as it was Pope Gregory VIII who put forth the modern model we use today in 1582. I guess he did so from his seat at the Vatican, so technically you can still chock this up as a Roman action, but it’s not quite the same as actions of Julius Caesar, a.k.a. The Notorious Caesar Salad. (Caesar salad is actually named after its creator, Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who ran a restaurant in San Diego, California. Apparently he was running thin on green ingredients on July 4th, 1924 and whipped together the salad with what he had on hand and it took off.)

Nonetheless, while the calendar is referred to as the Gregorian Calendar, it was not concocted by him like the Caesar salad was by chef Cardini. That credit belongs to Aloysius Lilius as explained here.

How Stuff Works – “The Modern Calendar: Where did it come from? Stuff of Genius”

So the reason we have this day every 1460 days is because of an Italian professor in the 16th century improving upon the calendar utilized by his ancestors centuries earlier. Someday in the future we’ll have to make a marginal adjustment to keep things neat, but that is not nearly as pressing of a matter as getting Leo an Oscar addressing climate change.

Thanks for reading! Make the most of your Leap Day and the rest of this Leap Year. If you have any questions or comments (not to be confused with questionable comments) then submit them below or drop me a line at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Have a wonderful day, especially to my friends Brandon and Nicole who are getting married today so that they only have to celebrate their anniversary every four years. Smart and economical guys!

Hoohiwahiwa!

Alex

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