Leap Year?

Today is my 11th birthday. So, in honor of this special and unique occasion, I’ve decided to post 11 interesting facts about Leap Year—the day which has “tickled the fancy of romantics around the world and through the ages.“
  1. It takes planet Earth 365 days and 6.25 hours complete a full year’s orbit around the sun. That means that every four years an extra day is needed to help balance things out. According to most theories, it was Emperor Julius Caesar who first noticed this and “corrected” the calendar. Unfortunately, he over-corrected, and in In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII fixed it by moving the date ahead by 11 days and setting in place the rules we use today.
  2. Century years are only Leap Years if divisible by 400. So, for example, 1900 was not a leap year, but 2000 was.
  3. The chance of being born on a leap day is often said to be one in 1,461. Four years is 1,460 days and adding one for the leap year you have 1,461. So, odds of 1/1,461.
  4. ABC News has pointed out that “the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in a Leap Year. If it weren't for that extra day, July 3 might be filled with the fireworks and patriotic displays typical of the July 4 holiday. Presidential elections have always fallen on a leap year except for the very first in 1789. It is the only election to not fall in a Leap Year.” Not sure why I never noticed that.
  5. On the day I was born, February 29, 1968, Love Is Blue by Paul Mauriat was at #1 on the Billboard charts. Mauriat also wrote the title theme from one of my all-time favorite movies, "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang." One of my favorite guitarists, Jeff Beck, did a great remake of the song that includes the lyrics.
  6. According to Irish legend, Leap Year came about due to a deal that St. Bridget struck with my favorite patron St. Patrick. Bridget complained about the fair sex having to wait for men to propose, so Patrick agreed to allow women to propose to men every four years.
  7. In Scotland, Queen Margaret declared in 1288 that on February 29 a woman had the right to pop the question to any man she fancied. Were a man to refuse said proposal, he would be faced with a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress, or a pair of gloves given to the rejected lady.
  8. In nearby Denmark, Leap Year folklore says that if a lady’s marriage proposal is turned down, the would-be groom owes her 12 pairs of gloves—one pair for each month to hide her embarrassment over the lack of an engagement ring on her jilted hand.
  9. In Finland, the tradition is that if a man refuses a woman's proposal on leap year day, he should buy her the fabrics for a skirt.
  10. Always the type to gravitate toward the happy ending, the Greeks recommend especially long engagements when a Leap Year approaches, believing it to be quite unlucky for couples to tie the knot during a Leap Year. Getting married on a Leap Day could set the wheels in motion for Oedipal-like tragedy. Statistics suggest that one in five engaged couples in Greece will purposely avoid getting married in a leap year.
  11. In modern-day America, Leap Year fables have evolved into the infamous Sadie Hawkins dance. Historically, Sadie Hawkins Day honors "the homeliest gal in the hills" created by Al Capp in the cartoon strip Li'l Abner. In the famous story line, Sadie and every other woman in town were allowed on that day to pursue and catch the most eligible bachelors in Dogpatch. Although the comic strip placed Sadie Hawkins Day in November, today it has become almost synonymous with February 29.

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About Eric Wilbanks

Brand strategist. Wordsmith. Change architect. Training specialist. DiSC Certified. Family guy (hot wife and 4 cool kids). Love my Bible, guitars, baseball, and MMA.


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