Today is Leap Day – February 29th, the rarest of days.
Did you know that leap years occur every four years, but a year that is divisible by 100, but not by 400, is not a leap year? In this way, the year 2000 was a leap year, and so was 1600. But 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years. Leap Day is inherently odd.
Leap Day is an strange and scarce occasion. It’s an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy an extra day in our year. It’s a holiday that comes around only every four years, and as such, it should be observed with extra reverence and ample care.
This year, I’m excited to commemorate Leap Day in the spirit of Leap Day William.
In episode 9 of the sixth season of the NBC show 30 Rock, the world was introduced to the wonderful lore and traditions of Leap Day William. I highly recommend watching the episode. It’s on Netflix and if I’m being honest, I’ll judge you pretty hard if you don’t.
By way of synopsis:
Leap Day William is an old, bald man with a handlebar moustache who wears a blue suit, top hat, and a yellow shirt. Tradition says that Leap Day William lives in the Marianna Trench. He emerges every four years to trade children’s tears for candy.
In his honor, every Leap Day people dress in yellow and blue. They eat rhubarb, give candy to crying children, and poke the eyes and pull the hair of those who don’t don the traditional Leap Day colors.
“Poke your eyes, pull your hair, you forgot what clothes to wear,” is the tradditional way to mock the Leap Day unobservant.
Like any holiday worth it’s salt, the lore and tradition of the day is secondary to the meaning and true spirit of it’s celebration.
Leap Day is about getting a magical extra day. It’s day to do the things you ordinarily wouldn’t do. It’s a day to take chances. Nothing is impossible on Leap Day and nothing that happens on Leap Day counts. Real life is for March.
The true meaning of Leap Day is about love and friendship and taking chances. Today is a magical day full of miracles. Just look for them and believe. You’ll see that they are all around.
Leap Day is a holiday that should be celebrated.
The world is a cruel and ridiculous place – wars, refugees and terrorists, rapidly spreading viruses, political campaigns that have become a circus, and rampant and institutionalized hate. Most of us don’t have to look beyond our close circle of family and friends to name deep loss, sickness and hurt. Life is harsh and sad a lot of the time. If we don’t make a concerted effort to see and live beyond the raw and complex things of this world, we’ll be swallowed up by them – rendered fearful, angry and calloused.
Living fully, honestly and well requires that we acknowledge the bad, the hard and the messy – yes. But it also demands that we notice and celebrate the good. Life is a confusing bitch, but it is also beautiful and abundant. We must – if we are to get through life with any scrap of sanity – capitalize upon every opportunity to celebrate it’s happy, life-giving and wonderfully absurd things. We need reasons to celebrate. We need reasons to get together with friends and family, to have a drink and wear silly clothes. We need Leap Day William.
“The spirit of Leap Day William exists inside of all of us.” – Leap Day William
I think that the spirit of Leap Day William is humor and ridiculousness. It’s about love and friendship and celebrating good things.
So go out today and take a Leap Day chance. Spread the holiday cheer. Notice the good and acknowledge the absurd. And as Leap Day William always says, live every day as if it’s Leap Day and every Leap Day as if it’s your last.
Merry Leap Day!