Grasping at Straws: Leap Day

Welcome to Grasping at Straws, the weekly blog where the unheralded, the underappreciated, and the long forgotten get their time to shine! Each week, I will “make the case” for an unpopular opinion regarding any topic or category of culture and life. Suggestions for future topics will be taken and considered at any of Sour Power’s social media channels, but please, keep it classy.

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Everyone loves holidays. We should have more holidays. I’ve written about this before.

There’s one holiday that we have the opportunity to create that would be the most anticipated and potentially most fervently celebrated. I am, of course, referring to Leap Day, a phenomenon that we allow to simply come and go every four years. Guys, this is literally a day that DOES NOT OCCUR for 3/4 of our lives! Every street in the world should resemble a championship parade for the entire 24 hours each leap year between February 28 and March 1. Leap Day should be the reason every household owns calendars for the next 4 years just so we can circle the date.

Before I officially make the case for why Leap Day deserves to be one of our culture’s most significant days, I’d like to present a little background. The existence of Leap Day is entirely tied to the Earth’s revolution cycle around the Sun. It takes 365 days and just under 6 hours for our planet to complete one revolution, which means that an extra day must be added every four years in order to keep our calendars synced up with nature (24 hours in a day divided by 6 extra hours each year = extra day every 4 years). Since it’s not exactly 365.25 days, Leap Day is skipped every 100 years, except years which are perfectly divisible by 400. This means that the years 1600, 2000, and 2400 are leap years, while the years 1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300, and 2500 are “common” years. Everyone following?

Leap Day’s built-in connection with Earth and the Sun basically predetermines it to have an extra level of importance. If you think about it, Leap Day is basically the day in which our man-made construction of time realigns with nature. That sounds like a cause for celebration to me. Halloween only came about because some ancient Celtics (not Bill Russell) believed that spirits roamed the Earth on October 31 and offerings must be made for their protection. Gradually, this evolved into the enormously popular and commercialized holiday it is today. If Halloween can become what it is off of pure folklore, what’s stopping Leap Day, a day grounded in scientific significance, from developing into an all-out bonanza?

Obviously, I’m not suggesting we just devolve into anarchy every four years on February 29. Leap Day should be closer to a Super New Year, the day to celebrate making it through another year, only multiplied by 4. However, there still needs to be some sort of structure. For our Leap Day festivities, I’m not willing to settle for blue-and-yellow decor and a mascot that lives in the Mariana Trench and emerges to trade children’s tears for candy like in 30 Rock. No, we need to dream bigger.

For starters, each person who was legitimately born on a Leap Day should be treated like Freddie Mercury at one of his famous house parties. Those patient, patient people deserve royal treatment on their day that we are all co-opting. In fact, they should be allowed to live above the law, Purge-style. Maybe. I could be getting carried away already. Possibly.

As far as what the day looks like for the rest of us, my first idea revolves around bacon. And a lot of it. A bacon-centric breakfast would be a cornerstone of the Leap Day festivities, and it is up to each person to decide how creative they will be. You could go with a boring bacon-on-a-plain-bagel setup if you want. A level or two up would be to roll up bacon and substitute it with the mini hot dogs in piggies-in-a-blanket. Perhaps you want to experiment with bacon-infused waffles. It’s all on the table for the Leap Day Bacon Breakfast. Remember, this only happens once every four years. Don’t be afraid to get wild.

Next, there should be large communal games that take place in each town. Multiple games stations in larger cities. I’m thinking giant hopscotch, with trampolines needed to get from one square to the next. I’m thinking 2-story cornhole. I’m thinking charades, which is such a perfect game on its own that it doesn’t need to be amplified. I just know charades needs to be involved. People being brought together for simple, juvenile fun in a way most don’t usually make time for. Leap Day is all about cherishing the most overlooked and underappreciated aspects of life that can bring us more joy. Sort of like this weekly column. Except way less reading.

Leap Day proceedings can even change depending on the location. Chicago could recreate the Ferris Bueller parade scene. New York could hold a massive pizza scavenger hunt. San Francisco could cover all those steep streets with snow and hold sledding competitions. Who knows? The wackier the activity, the more you’re getting out of Leap Day.

Not everyone is interested in participating with the masses on a holiday, though. Plenty of people would much rather a small family gathering. Leap Day doesn’t ignore those people. In fact, the family party is encouraged as day turns to night and people grow tired of the public antics. A more intimate setting is the perfect way to end the holiday. This could hit all the same beats of a normal holiday party if that’s what you choose: lots of food, cocktails, uncomfortable political banter, unnecessary drama, and that one uncle passed out in the large armchair in the corner. All basic stuff, all acceptable.

Of course, you could keep the dial turned all the way toward “Absolutely Insane” if you wanted to as well. Remember, Leap Day occurs for only 24 hours every 4 years. Might as well take advantage of every minute. Entirely up to you. That’s the beauty of Leap Day.

Above all else, Leap Day is should be our escape from reality. So much of our daily lives are plagued with division, stress, anxiety, boredom, frustration, and pain quite frankly. Life can seem overwhelming and unrelenting at times, as if you’re just helplessly watching yourself proceed through your typical routine. Leap Day is all about seizing an opportunity to break from the monotony in a way that other holidays fail to do. Even other holidays have established traditions that we seem to collectively follow without a second thought.

An injection of spontaneity and variation into our lives once every four years could go a long way, and the occasion being that rare certainly makes it seem reasonable. Our presence here on Earth can feel extremely random and burdensome when you think too hard about it. But if you don’t think hard enough, you might not realize that it becomes necessary to seek fulfillment and pleasure from time to time.

As a great man once said, life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. I love a good callback, and Ferris Bueller knows what he’s talking about. Maybe that entire movie was actually a precursor to the official creation of the Leap Day holiday.

Or maybe, I’m just grasping at straws.