February 29, 2008


February is my least favorite month, and for that reason, it is bothersome to me that it occasionally has an extra day. I appreciate the oddity of it, of course, and yet I think I'd prefer that additional day to be the 33rd of May (I'm subtracting another day from February, as long as I'm in charge of the calendar). There are however, people who are so bothered, not only by our unusual leap day, but also by the very fact that dates of different years fall on different days, and that it takes a rhyme to remember which months have 31 days and which have 30 that they have cooked up a drastic and unrealizable dream calendar system. And of course, much like Styx or Ron Paul this crazy idea has a traveling band of earnest fanatics who just can't let it go.

The principle of the World Calendar is as follows: every third month has 31 days, all the others have 30 (Jan 31, Feb 30, Mar 30, Apr 31, and so on). Since this only gives you 364 days however, you tack on a so called "Worldday" at the end of December. Yet, in order that the calendar has the same calendar date falling on the same week day every year, this day does not belong to the week. In the rioting and violent chaos that would inevitably ensue upon this day, we would all note appreciatively that it was unnecessary to buy a new calendar from year to year. And so we would forever stare up at the yellowed pages of our "Kitties - 2023" until humankind's eventual vaporization by androids in the late years of the 21st century.

And of course, there would be leap years as well, but again, so as not to mess with the date-weekday correspondence it would be another of those blank days (a June 31st).

The ghastly system was devised originally in 1930 and supported by something known as the World Calendar Association for several decades. The lobbying of this organization succeeded in gaining some notoriety for the idea, and introducing unsuccessful bills in the U.S. Congress supporting the concept. Evidently, the League of Nations devoted a bit of time to debating and promoting the calendar in the mid-1930's while absolutely nothing of international importance was going on.

Aside from the obvious fact that the confusion and disorder that would result from changing over to this system would completely negate any possible benefit from it, there are a number of groups that have come out in firm opposition to the World Calendar, as though it had any chance of coming to pass. The first group, with the dumbest reasons for disagreeing with it, are religions who feel that the blank weekday would send the planet careening off its axis when the 7-day pattern of worship was disrupted. Second are the publishers of calendars, a politically formidable adversary. And if the World Calendar started gaining in popularity, people born on March, May, August and November 31st would emerge from the woodwork, uniting to protest the idea. If you've every talked to someone born on February 29th you know how defensive people can be about their birthdays getting taken away (Feb 29ers wouldn't mind if we just had 366 days every year and the seasons slid completely out of whack -- so bitter and self-centered they are). Plus, when it comes to birthdays, it would be unfortunate to be consigned to a life of Monday celebrations while guys like me lord their Saturdays over them.

But of course, in the words of the WCA, "THINK ABOUT IT: How can any civilized world achieve world peace while its main calendar battles with everyone who uses it?" And they have a point here, after all. People forget that the Bay of Pigs invasion failed due to confusion over the number of days in March.