Hi All –
I’ll get back to my Blog Series shortly, but since today is a special day on the calendar, I thought you might want to know why it’s special.
And I want to give a big birthday shout out to my mother-in-law whose birthday is actually on the 29th and so technically she’s only 15 years old!
Despite what our elementary teachers told us, a year isn’t really 365 days. Our planet actually takes 365 1/4 days to revolve around the sun. These six additional hours each year add up to an extra 24 hours over four years, at which point we add a day to our calendar in order to keep us in sync with the sun. Without leap day, annual events would slowly shift seasons—eventually, we’d be celebrating Christmas in July.
One Glitch in the System
Caesar is credited for incorporating leap year into the Julian calendar in 46 B.C. However, scientists noticed that annual events were still shifting over extended periods of time. While the calculation of 365 1/4 days for the Earth to lap the sun was close, the true figure is actually about 11 minutes short of that, and this tiny miscalculation caused a day of discrepancy every 128 years. Pope Gregory XIII came to the rescue in 1582, ruling that leap year would be skipped three times every four centuries to fix the snag.
Most of us won’t ever see a Leap Day skipped in our lifetimes. The last time a Leap Day was skipped was in February of 1900. The next time will be in February of 210
Since it’s an unusual occurrence, folk stories suggest that leap day babies were unruly and tough to raise. I think my MIL would disagree. =)
Because Leaplings technically only have real birthdays every 4 years, they had to make special provisions in the law that allow them to take the test on February 28 or March 1. Some states are mean and make them wait until March 1.
A Modest Proposal
Four hundred years ago, women weren’t allowed to propose marriage to men… except on leap day. While the source of this switcheroo isn’t 100 percent clear, folklore traces the tradition to fifth-century Ireland, when St. Bridget supposedly complained to St. Patrick that gals were sick of waiting around for their procrastinating men to pop the question. Patrick consented to a leap day role reversal and, by some accounts, also declared that men who declined the proposal would be fined! Supposedly the fines, set to law in 1288 by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow
And so, it being a leap year and St. Brigid being single, she got down on one knee and proposed to St. Patrick on the spot. He refused and bestowed on her a kiss and a beautiful silk gown in consolation…nice double-standard there, St. Patty!
– People born on February 29 are all invited to join The Honor society of Leap Year Day Babies. I have to ask my MIL if she belongs to this society!
– According to the Guinness Book of Records, the only verified example of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29 is that of the Keogh family. Peter Anthony was born in Ireland on February 29, 1940, while his son Peter Eric was born on the Leap Day in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1964. His daughter, Bethany Wealth, was, in turn, born in the UK on February 29, 1996.