Maybe it’s just me, but February seems long this year. Wait, it’s leap year! But that doesn’t explain it all. Today may be a gimme—another day in what has already been a long year—but the calendrical weirdness began with the dates of our moveable feasts last year. Thanksgiving fell as late as it possibly could—November 28. Since it is the fourth Thursday of the month, and the latest fourth of any day is the 28th, there can never be less time between Thanksgiving and Christmas than there was in 2019. For those of us who measure time by the days off work we’re allotted, the holiday season felt rushed. And since New Year’s Day fell on a Wednesday, HR departments all over were scrambling to figure out how to make it a long weekend. Wednesday is the Easter Island of holiday dates—too far from land to reach any second day.
By the time we could kick up our heels for a weekend it was already two work days into the new decade and business really began in earnest only on January 6. Epiphany, according to those who follow circumcision-style New Year. January ended on a Friday, and had this not been a leap year, so would’ve February. A month with 28 days, after all, is a proper lunar-based one. The other months were lengthened to stoke the egos of emperors and others who thought they were lords of time as well as space. But this year we’ve ended up with an extra day of February. I want to use it well, and as I look at my list of things to get done on a weekend (generally far longer than my list of things that I accomplish in a work week), I begin to think maybe this should be a holiday (and I don’t mean that sexist Sadie Hawkins tradition). But it’s already a weekend, so HR’s off the hook. This time.
We could use a few more holidays. Every January I look at the sparse allocations of days off for the coming year. There are normally ten of them, spread unevenly across twelve months. There are long spells when, if you need a mental break from work you have to cash in precious vacation days. Leap years make the total number of days even longer. You get an extra work day but not an extra holiday. Our lives revolve around our special occasions. Yes, there’s not really a “holy day” to correspond to the necessary intercalary day to help us keep up with the sun. Still, it feels like a missed opportunity to me.