Hey – Take a Flying Leap!

Couldn’t resist. It’s Leap Day!

And that only happens every FOUR years. It is our way of correcting our calendar, and using up the solar time that we have not been able to fit into the usual 24 hour per day, 365 day per year calendar. (Those pesky 6 hours of day each year have to be added together and put someplace!)

So, what does it all mean? Simply put, we are synchronizing the calendar year with the astronomical or seasonal year. To do that, we have to insert an extra day every four years, because the Earth’s orbit around the sun actually takes longer than 365 days, almost six hours longer. So we stick in that extra day to take care of the difference. Julius Caesar thought of it.

Cultures with other calendars do it as well. The Hebrew, Chinese and Hindu calendars are all lunisolar (based on the phases of the moon and the timing of the solar year). These calendars actually insert an entire extra month every two or three years (seven times over a 19 year period) in order to be sure that their calendars are synchronized with the sun and moon.

Some fun folk traditions are based on Leap Year. In the British Isles, women propose to men during this year. Some places have tightened the tradition so that they can only propose on Leap Day, Feb. 29. In Denmark and Finland, if a woman’s proposal is refused, she has to be compensated. Usually it is with goods or materials, but sometimes just a kiss will do. 

I remember Sadie Hawkins Day during High School. I’m not saying what year it was, but it must have been a Leap Year. In my high school, we girls had an entire week of February evening events sponsored by the school. We could take dates to any or all of them. Seems like I remember dates with three different guys. Tom, Steve, Greg? Are you still out there? It was fun, wasn’t it? Thanks for the memories.

Finally, for those of you born on this day (all 187,000 of you in the US, 4 MILLION in the entire world), Happy Birthday to all you Leaplings!

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