Bending the universe to human will is a risky proposition—the universe almost always refuses to cooperate. Take the calendar, for example. The earth revolves around the sun once a year. You’d think it would be easy to chop that time period up into even parts that fit together nicely and are the same year after year after year.

No such luck. It’s like humanity figured out how long a day was before they figured out how long a year was. As a result, the solar year is approximately 365.2422 days long. What?

Well, that’s not fair. The rotation of the earth is not constant, for a number of reasons, including tide patterns and atmospheric pressure. And the ancient Egyptians, foremost among others, were trying to align the calendar with measurements of the sun, moon, and stars using sundials, shadow clocks, obelisks, star tables, and merkhets. Quite good for 4000 BCE, but not good enough.

The Romans liked the Egyptian system, though, and being the overachievers they were, set out to improve it. For starters, they added names to their months. To even things up, they took the shocking step of adding one day to every fourth year! This basically created the “leap year” we know today. Through commerce and conquest, the acceptance of this “Julian Calendar” (after Julius Ceasar) spread widely in the First Century.

But it was still slightly inaccurate and started to “drift” out of alignment with the sun after only a few decades. It took 1600 years until the Roman Catholic Church, at the height of its global influence, took a turn at evening things out. The Church dropped ten days from the Julian Calendar in October 1582, partly an effort to provide more “acceptable” dates for church holidays like Easter. This “Gregorian Calendar,” named after the then current Pope, is what we use in the Western World today

[1], and it is what gave us February 29, formally known as “Leap Day.”

We mention all of this because we are—surprise!—in the middle of a leap year, with February 29 coming up next week. It’s the kind of holiday that doesn’t get a lot of attention—unless you are born on it. Then everything changes. We know, because we tracked down someone born on February 29, and asked about the pros and cons.

“Well, I can tell people I’m only 18 even though I’m over 60,” he says. “When I was little my parents teased me by telling me I wouldn’t get my present until I found my birthday on the calendar. Other than that, it’s no big deal, although the DMV is always a hassle and never get my Starbuck’s birthday coffee because I slip through the cracks! Most of the time I just say my birthday is February 28. Or March 1.”

Unlike this gentleman, February 29 has little impact on the rest of us, but it does give c-stores an extra day to tuck in some extra sales and profit, always a good thing. In addition, there are actually more than a few clever ideas for c-store promotions that use Leap Day as a theme.

SSCS Technology helps c-stores make the most of rare opportunities like Leap Day, as well as ones that come the other 365, er, 364 days of the year. We’re there to back you no matter how long it takes to get from January to December, providing real live human support—the Gold Standard of the industry—that is unwavering no matter how long the business year. Want to know more? Give us a call at (800) 927-7277 and we can talk about it. Even on February 29.


[1] Full disclosure and fun fact: There are 40 different calendars being used in the world today.