Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time waits for no one

In the year 1700 in Sweden, today was directly followed by March 1 (even though it was a leap year in the Julian calendar which Sweden followed at the time) thus the Swedish calendar was created.  You may want to refer to our February 1st post before reading on…

In 1699 Sweden had decided it would switch to the (new) Gregorian calendar.  Apparently it was all the rage at the time.  However, there was a slight problem since at that moment,  the Gregorian was a full 11 days ahead of the Julian.  A simple, yet workable plan was developed to drop all leap year days until 1740 and gradually come into sync with the Gregorian.

The 1700 adjustment went off without a hitch, but you know what they say about “best laid plans”.  Over the ensuing years, nothing more was done to adjust the calendar and in 1711 (probably in sheer frustration) King Charles the XII decided to abandon the Swedish calendar (which no one else in the world was using) and go back to the Julian in 1712.  Of course to sync up to the Julian in 1712 (a leap year) meant adding a day back to their calendar.  They rightfully chose February which gave the world its first and only 30 day February.

I don’t know why I love stories like this.  Perhaps it makes me feel slightly better when my own lofty yet laboriously thought out plans go astray.  Perhaps not.

Btw – In 1753 Sweden did go Gregorian.  Cold turkey.  In that year, the day after February 17th was March 1st.  End of story.

In another story of great ideas having trouble getting started, on this day in 1906 Bugsy Siegel was born.  He
envisioned the playground that is now Las Vegas but on June 20th, 1947 he accidentally walked into multiple rounds from a .30 caliber rifle while sitting in his living room, reading the LA Times.

   The Historical Inebriant:  The Flamingo

1/2 oz apricot brandy
1 1/2 oz gin
Juice of 1/2 limes
1 tsp grenadine syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

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