Yesterday was Leap Day as 2020 is a Leap Year.
In thinking of Leap Day only two things come to mind for me. It was a day or maybe it’s a year when women can propose marriage to a man and it was the day I had surgery for a broken ankle.
The first seems very archaic in today’s world. I did a Google search to find if it was the actual Leap Day such proposals had to be made or if it could be anytime throughout the year. It seems it comes from an old Irish legend says that during the 366th day of Leap Year a woman is allowed to propose, at least that is what Irish Central says.
According to the Time and Date website, such proposals could happen any time during Leap Year and that the tradition comes from a deal struck between St. Patrick (who is honored on St. Patrick’s Day every March 17) and St. Brigid, who was a good friend of St. Patrick’s according to evidence (at least so it says at catholic.org). The deal was that women could propose to men every four years.
I’m not sure what happened on those years that were not Leap Years. It seems Leap Year doesn’t happen every four years because if the year can be divided by 4 is not the only criteria. It has to be able to be divided by four but not by 100, unless 400 can also divide it evenly. So while 2020 is a Leap Year, in 80 years when we reach 2100, it will not be a Leap Year. You can divide 2100 by 4 (525), but you can also divide it by 100 (21) but not by 400 (equals 5.25). That means there will be an eight-year gap between leap years 2096 and 2104. It’s a good thing that nowadays women don’t abide by this tradition but will propose to their chosen guy whenever they want, if they want to propose.
In Greek legend, it was unlucky to be married in a leap year or on Leap Day. I guess it would have to be a long engagement if anyone followed both Irish and Greek legends.
What I had not heard about was what would happen if the guy refused the proposal. One website had him having to buy the women 12 pairs of gloves so she could cover her ringless hands for a year to avoid embarrassment.
Breaking an ankle, I’m kind of glad the surgery was on Leap Day as that meant I wouldn’t really remember it in later years. Whether that became a self-fulfilling prophecy or whether it actually happens that way, I’m not sure. I do know I cannot remember how old I was or what year it was. I just remember I was in State College when it happened.
And while I may not want to remember my surgery, what if you were born on Leap Day. The next year comes around and no Feb. 29. While most Leap Day birthdays are celebrated on Feb. 28 in non Leap Years, it would still be a little odd. You’d actually be born on a day that three-quarters of the time doesn’t even exist. It’s no wonder that in Scotland they once believed it was unlucky to be born on Leap Day.
Since it only shows up once every four years, why even have it? It all comes down to time. The addition of one more days into the year every four years keeps our “modern-day Gregorian calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. The time it takes the Earth to circle around the sun is slightly more than the 365 days we normally think of in a year. It takes another chunk of time, just under six hours, to complete that circle. That total time is a tropical year, which begins on the March equinox, which is the first day of spring.
Without leap year, we would begin each calendar year about 6 hours before the circle was complete. After a time, our seasons would be out of sync with our calendar. Well we already celebrate Christmas in July...just saying.
Whatever you feeling a about Leap Day I hope it was a happy day for everyone because St. Pat’s day is just around the corner.