Tom Wrigglesworth - why February is the worst month

Tom Wrigglesworth

Tom Wrigglesworth - Credit: Archant

Tom suggests some radical changes to the calendar to save us all from the misery of February

Greetings readers, I hope this column finds you in good health, but sadly I suspect not, as it’s February. Without question the worst month ever invented. A time for all the bad habits that were once put on hold thanks to ambitious new year resolutions to slowly creep back in to our daily lives, simultaneously offering comfort and guilt. I’d say the only redeeming feature of this cold, miserable period, is that it is blessedly short. We should also be thankful for the fact that the error produced by our Gregorian calendar system only requires us to factor in one extra day every four years (pretty much), in the form of a leap year.

Now, 2018 is not a leap year but it got me wondering – why oh why add it to February? Nobody likes February, in fact the first Roman calendarists (I think I just made that word up) didn’t bother with it at all, and just ran their calendars from March to December. One can only assume that the Romans had such a tedious Christmas, with charades and Star Wars being hundreds of years away, that by the time New Year’s Eve came around they all hit the booze so hard that they all slipped in to a deep alcohol induced coma which took them right the way up until spring. Imagine getting so drunk that you slept through the tax return deadline, the third round (proper) of the FA Cup, and Valentine’s Day. As a self employed, married Sheffield Wednesday fan this actually sounds quite appealing.

You would have thought that in this day and age, technology would have sorted out the need for a leap year and made several imperceptible adjustments throughout the year to put us back on track, in fact it already has, the international atomic clocks occasionally add one second onto the time we use to compensate for the fact that the earth’s rotation is slowing down. However the need for a leap year remains because our calendar, and the number of days it gives us is pretty much set in stone. And you can’t go changing the calendar, can you? Not for everybody involved, I mean, I switched over from Apple to Google calendars a few years ago and I don’t think I’ve got my wife’s birthday right ever since. It’s a dangerous game.

But is still makes me wonder, why add this extra day to depression ridden February? One idea that has to be worth a try would be to add six hours every year to January 1st. Slightly less severe than the Romans ‘see you all in March’ method of dealing with a hangover, but who would refuse an extra six hours in bed to see in the new year? Admittedly, to suddenly introduce one day that is 30 hours long would have severe knock on effects regarding day light hours for the rest of the year, but six hours longer in bed! It’s got to be worth considering.

Or, why not keep things loosely as they are, but give the extra day to a month that is in a position to do some good with it? Who wouldn’t be delighted to hear that this year, August is going to have 32 days. Every four years we tack the extra day on to the end and have a massive bank holiday. Because who owns that extra day? Whose time is it? Julius Caesar invented it, but he chucked in a leap year every four years without fail, meaning he kind of over corrected and time drifted out of sync again. Then along came Pope Gregory XIII who tidied up the formula and put us where we are today, but who owns that time? Has no one campaigned or suggested that the only fair outcome is a day off, like a chronology tax rebate?

Anything but making February longer would make the world a better place. But it could be worse – the other day I learned that the Chinese calendar has to have a leap month! Two Februarys back to back! Thank God we don’t have to endure such horror, so I’ll see you in March.