Monday, February 29, 2016

From Limping to Leaping


"Anno bisesto, anno funesto” (leap year, gloomy year), say Italians. “Leap year was ne’er a good sheep year.” agrees an old Scottish proverb. "Високосный год "Урожай" соберет" (leap year will gather the "Harvest") warns a Russian saying implying that there will be plenty of disasters - calamities, catastrophes and cataclysms. But usually there are not.

​Leap years tend to be good for stocks (with the exception of the recent crashes in 2000 and 2008), although they are not among the greatest stock market years. Obvious math considerations tell that more goods will be produced in the leap year because of the extra day. But there also could be more confusion - as the leap year oddity of 29 days might throw off old software code in both the governmental and corporate worlds.

Events that disrupt usual routines are always a bit scary. Hence the precautions and the reluctance to do anything really important like starting a new business, especially on February 29th. 
“Nothing shall be built, planned or planted in a leap year; it does not prosper,” states the “Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore and the Occult Sciences of the World.”

In many countries around the world, superstitions claim that bad luck will come to couples that marry during a leap year. Yet, according to a popularized legend, St. Patrick granted to St. Bridget the right for all single women to propose marriage during leap years. And any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29th has to compensate her by buying 12 pairs of gloves or a skirt.

So perhaps a leap year is a good year if you think different and exceed expectations? As Steve Jobs said, "the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do." 


Neumann, P. (1992). Leap-year problems Communications of the ACM, 35 (6) DOI: 10.1145/129888.129900

Cohen CF, & Bachofer HJ (1980). Hospital indicators: leap year distorts February statistics. Hospitals, 54 (11), 43-6 PMID: 7372291

Sue Lynn McDaniel. "Leap Year: Chance, Chase, or Curse?" The Ephemera Journal Vol. 18 Iss. 2 (2016) p. 15 - 19 

Rob Siltanen (14 Dec 2011). "The Real Story Behind Apple's 'Think Different' Campaign". Forbes