Yes, bissextile. An unexpected word really, and upon my first reading of it I had an instant flash of a decorative tile adorned with an illustration taken from the sealed section of the Karma Sutra. Something not usually found in your average bathroom.
Bissextile, disappointingly, turned out to be nothing so startling. It is another name for today, the extra day falling in a leap year. Bissextile doesn’t really shout calendric term to me.
I am absolutely not a mathematician, words are the thing I love, and that will be fairly obvious to you when I say I can’t work out why on earth bissextile, twice sixth, is used for something that happens every four years. I really wanted to know why, and to share it with you, and I read any amount of explanations. No matter what, nothing made any sense to my brain whatsoever.
The usually helpful thefreedictionary.com confused me even further with the explanation of the latin at the end of their bissextile entry stating it was because the sixth day before the Calends of March on February 24 occurred twice every leap year.
Ummm….yeah…. You can’t see me but I have a glazed look in my eyes.
This article from 1952 tells me that Mrs. Myrom Palmer had bissextile births in both 1948 and 1952. In 2012 her children are now celebrating their 14th and 15th birthdays. An excuse to be cheap on the presents if you are a mean parent!
I love that the doctors estimated the chances of two leap year births happening in one family as one million to one. It is amazing how often that happens, isn’t it? One million to one chances seem to crop up nine times out of ten. (I dips me lid to you, Sir Terry Pratchett)