Today is Feb 29th, aka leap day. I know this day occurs every once in a while, but quite frankly I have never paid any attention to why it happens and the significance of this day, besides knowing that those born on February 29th only have a birthday to celebrate once every few years. Always curious, I decided to do a little research and find out more about why leap day occurs, and what kind of significance it should have in my life.
To shed a little clarity on when and why this day occurs, I will give you a short version of the low-down. Leap day occurs in most years that are evenly divisible by four (like 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.) However, years that are evenly divisible by 100 do NOT contain a leap day, with the exception of years that are evenly divisible by 400. For example, 1900 did not have a leap day, while 2000 did.
Now why do we bother to throw this monkey wrench into our calendar every few years? Its simple: While most years of the modern calendar have 365 days, a complete rotation around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours. Therefore, adding a full day (24 hours) every four years keeps us in sync with the sun’s position. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If we were to stick with 365 days every year, we’d eventually drift away from our regular seasons and astronomical events. So yes, this year has 366 days in it.
As far as traditions and superstitions of leap day, there are a few, with the most common one being that it is a day that women should propose to men, instead of the other way around. According to Irish legend, St. Bridget struck a deal to allow women to propose. Hopefully Hallmark will not catch wind of this tradition, otherwise we may end up with a man’s version of Valentine’s Day…. featuring beer and steak (sorry, men, for the generalization) instead of chocolates and roses. Apparently there is also something called The Honor Society of Leap Year Babies. Obviously, there is only one way to have an “in” to this club.
So, what are you going to do on February 29th? Do you have a birthday to celebrate? Why not start a new tradition – Something special that you only do when February 29th occurs. We have an extra day this year, so consider it a gift and make the most of it.