American Minute with Bill Federer Feb. 29 - Julius Caesar's Leap Day, and Columbus' Eclipse
American Minute with Bill Federer
Feb. 29 - Julius Caesar's Leap Day, and Columbus' Eclipse
FEBRUARY 29th is Leap Day.
was invented in 45 B.C. when Julius Caesar replaced the many calendars
used throughout the Roman Empire based on the moon's cycles with one
unified calendar based on the sun, having 365 days and a "leap" day
every 4th year.
This was called the Julian Calendar.
Caesar also moved the beginning of the year from March 1st to January 1st.
three centuries and ten major persecutions, the Roman Empire became
Christian, and the most important day in the Christian church calendar
is Christ's resurrection, or as it is also called, Easter.
325 AD, the First Council of Nicaea wanted to keep Easter as close as
possible to the Jewish Feast of Passover, yet still have it on a
Sunday, so they set Easter as the FIRST SUNDAY after the FULL MOON
following the SPRING EQUINOX ("equinox" or "equal night" is one day in
the Spring and one day Fall when the amount of daylight is equal to the
amount of night.)
567 AD, the Council of Tours moved the beginning of the year in most
of Europe back to March 1st, as January 1st was associated with pagan
the Middle Ages, the Julian Calendar date of Easter had slipped too
early in the year, so Pope Gregory XIII, in 1582, adjusted the calendar
slightly to omit leap days in years divisible by 100 but not divisible
This is called the Gregorian Calendar.
Pope Gregory also moved the beginning of the year back to January 1st.
Protestant Europe did not adopt the Catholic Gregorian Calendar for nearly two centuries.
This gave rise to some interesting record keeping.
ship would leave Protestant England on one date according to the
Julian Calendar and arrive in Catholic Europe at an earlier date,
according to the Gregorian Calendar;
April 23, 1616 was the day William Shakespeare died in England and
Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote-Man of La Mancha, died in
Spain, but when the differences between England's Julian and Spain's
Gregorian Calendars are removed, Cervantes actually died ten days
England and its colonies waited till 1752 to adopt the Gregorian Calendar, but by that time there was an 11 day discrepancy.
America finally adjusted its calendar and the day after September 2,
1752, became September 14, 1752, there were reports of riots.
Another interesting event occurred on this day during Christopher Columbus' last voyage.
by storms around the Caribbean Sea, two of Columbus' ships were
abandoned and the remaining two were worm-eaten and sinking.
Columbus was shipwrecked on Jamaica.
Indians brought food for a while, but then threatened to become hostile.
Columbus, using his skill as a navigator, predicted a lunar eclipse on FEBRUARY 29, 1504.
called the Indian Chiefs to his marooned ship and told them if they
did not stay on good terms, he would pray that God would blot out the
When the eclipse began, the Indians shrieked and quickly made peace with Columbus.
Columbus later wrote:
"My hope in the One who created us all sustains me: He is an ever-present help in trouble."
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