24 February 2022

Party Like It's Ante Diem vi Kalendas Martias!!!

Yes, I AM a calendar nerd! This is slightly edited from a post I shared two years ago.

I have a friend whose birthday is today, 24 February. When I messaged him 'Ad multos annos' on Facebook in 2020, I added, 'You do realise you get to celebrate tomorrow too?' The reason? He was born on the 6th Day before the Kalends of March (ante diem vi Kalendas Martias), and tomorrow will be the Second 6th Day before the Kalends of March (ante diem bis vi Kalendas Martias) in the Traditional Calendar. There is no 29 February.

Sharp-eyed readers who check my posts of the Roman Martyrology at midnight might have noticed some oddities in 2020 in the English dating. The Martyrology for the 22nd gave us a warning. At the end of the reading occurs this paragraph:

In anno Bissextili bis pronuntiatur Sexto Kaléndas Mártii, et eadem Luna, scilicet die 24 et 25. Prima die, id est 24, hoc modo: Sexto Kaléndas Mártii. Luna..., quota fuerit. Deinde: Commemorátio plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. Secunda die, id est 25: Sexto Kaléndas Mártii. Luna... In Iudǽa..., et cetera, ut in sequenti Lectione.

Which translates:

In leap years, the sixth day before the Kalends of March is said twice, and the same moon (i.e., the number of the phase of the moon) that is, on both the 24th and 25th. On the first day, that is, the 24th, in this way: "The sixth day before the Kalends of March. The (number) moon." Then, "The commemoration of very many holy Martyrs, Confessors and Virgins." On the second day, that is, the 25th, "The sixth day before the Kalends of March. The (number) moon. In Judaea etc." as in the lesson that follows.

 This is because in the Liturgical Calendar, both Julian and Gregorian, there is no 29 February. Yes, both systems have leap years in which a day is added to February, but rather than add a day at the end, the 24th (the 6th day before the Kalends of March) happens again (bis=twice), hence the old name for a leap year, 'bissextile' ('the 6th again').

So, if you have the good fortune to be born on the 24th or 25th of February every leap year you have TWO birthdays on which to celebrate. Enjoy!

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