Take A Leap: Leap Day Explained

By Scrubadoo’s Jen Hankin 

Today, February 29, 2012 marks a Leap Day which, this year, also falls on Hump Day (aka Wednesday.)

There are lots of traditions, and folklore surrounding this day and it’s importantance. If you are interested in the brief history of the modern calendar check out this video, it’s pretty interesting and expains why we have a Leap Year.

It all boils down to the fact that we actually have 365.25 days a year. Every forth year we play catch up and add one extra day at the end of February, thus the Leap Day.

A leap year is any year whose date is exactly divisible by 4 except those which are divisible by 100 but not 400.

One of my favorite Leap Day legends is “Leaplings” or “Leapers.” These are persons who are born on February 29th, Leap Day. It was once thought leapling babies would inevitably prove sickly and “hard to raise,” though no one truly remembers why.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, there are world record holders both of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29 and of the number of children born on February 29 in the same family

Are you a Leaper? How do you celebrate your birthday during non-Leap Years?

Another tradition that I find interesting is, for today only women are allowed to propose to men. According to Irish legend, St. Bridget and St. Patrick worked out a deal that women can pop the question only once every four years, which is believed to help balance out the traditional roles of men and women—just like the Leap Day balances out the calendar.

 In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring.

Do you know of any other interesting Leap Day traditions or celebrations? Please share your thoughts with us in a comment below.

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