Friday, February 29, 2008

Intercalary Day

To-day is a bonus. We can celebrate this, intercalary day, this bissextum, this leap day as a gift. The calendar measures time with a large sandglass. The sun, moon and the stars take their part. We follow different reckonings, mainly roman, first pagan then christian Rome.

The calends was the day of the new moon, and the ides were the full moon. The twice six day, the bissextum, was the doubling of 24 February, the sixth day before the calends of Mars. February having, then, 30 days. Then to 1970, Saint Matthias’s day was normally on the 24th, but sometimes then on the 25th, now the 14th of May.

Some people have the fortune to be born on this day, the new last day of February. Gioachino Rossini, the great composer, was one such. I am happy to note, my dear mother was born on such a day. Because of a fanciful calculation, I am now much older than my mother. The Pirates of Penzance played on this motif.

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