BLOG: Leap to February 30
February is a special month for several reasons, particularly in 2020, when we add an extra “leap” day to the calendar.
The middle of the month, Feb. 14, is the day of love around the world — Valentine’s Day. Feb. 24 also marks Gregorian Calendar Day, an interesting holiday given that 2020 is also a leap year. Then, there is Feb. 30, a date with an interesting history that I will explain here.
For me, February also brought a few endocrine connections.
On Feb. 13, the Michigan chapter of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists held its quarterly Greater Detroit Endocrine Club meeting at the unique Bloomfield Open Hunt Club, a 40-acre property nestled in the heart of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I planned to go, but the roads from Lansing to Detroit were quite risky due to snow and ice. I attended the event via live video streaming. It was a wonderful scientific, business and social gathering for our AACE chapter.
On Feb. 14, our endocrinology division at Michigan State University finally had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing a candidate for a new faculty position for the division. One of our associates moved to California last summer, and we have not been able to recruit a faculty member to fill that vacancy, so far. We are keeping our fingers crossed; it is so hard to recruit an endocrinologist because of the severe shortage of endocrinologists, nationwide! Further, only a small percentage of graduating endocrinologists go into academia. And, Michigan may not be as attractive as, say, California.
At the AACE chapter meeting, Sudhaker Rao, MD, a nationally renowned expert in calcium and mineral bone disorders, announced Henry Ford Hospital’s 7th annual Osteoporosis and Bone and Mineral Disorders Symposium, taking place on Feb. 29. Dr. Rao didn’t miss the opportunity to make a February leap joke, saying that the date of the symposium is easy to remember, because it falls on Feb. 29!
Then, there is Feb. 30.
According to The Free Dictionary, Feb. 30 occurs on some calendars, but not the Gregorian calendar, where the month of February contains only 28 days, or 29 days in a leap year. Feb. 30 is usually used as a sarcastic date for referring to something that will never happen or will never be done.
Feb. 30 was also a real date in Sweden in 1712.
Instead of changing from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar by omitting a block of consecutive days, as had been done in other countries, the Swedish Empire planned to change gradually by omitting all leap days from 1700 to 1740. Although the leap day was omitted in February 1700, the Great Northern War began later that year, diverting the attention of the Swedes from their calendar so that they did not omit leap days on the next two occasions, and 1704 and 1708 kept leap years.
To avoid confusion and further mistakes, the Julian calendar was restored in 1712 by adding an extra leap day, thus giving that year the only known actual use of the 30th of February in a calendar. That day corresponded to February 29 in the Julian calendar and to March 11 in the Gregorian calendar.
A Swedish conversion to the Gregorian calendar was finally accomplished in 1753, by omitting the last 11 days of February.
While the Swedes are not expected to have another Feb. 30, any time soon (I guess), it is nice that we all enjoy an extra day in the year, Feb. 29, this year and every 4 years!