It’s Leap Year. We will have an extra whole day to do with as we please! How convenient that Feb. 29 is on a Saturday.
This happens only once every four years, and it seems that by the time it rolls around again, we don’t remember until we flip the calendar page to February.
Is it a simple coincidence that Leap Year is also an election year? Maybe we are supposed to use that other day to think a little more about how we’re going to vote. This year, that might take more than a day. Or two.
I think it’s a funny day for several reasons. Someone recently told me her father wanted to marry her mother on Feb. 29 so he would have fewer anniversaries to remember (or to buy gifts). He was foiled when her mother pointed out that the day they had already chosen was actually Feb. 28.
And what about babies born on Feb. 29? They get a birthday only every four years! Wouldn’t it be fun to say “For my 6th birthday, I’m going to go dancing and hang out at the tiki bar with my friends”?
How did Leap Year come about in the first place? Seems old Julius Caesar and his smart guys (astronomers) back in the first century B.C. figured out that the calendar got jacked up occasionally, because the way they had created it (with 355 days) didn’t match up with the solar calendar (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and some change). Over time, it had messed with the seasons, so perhaps they were planting gardens in the winter – or going snow skiing in July.
They decided to add a day to the end of their year, which happened in February. This was the Julian calendar.
Well, things continued to go a little wonky over a few hundred years, so in the 16th century, Pope Gregory XII and his guys made some alterations. First, he jumped ahead 11 days (which makes me wonder if this where the “leap” idea originated). Alas, they found that the Julian calendar was about 11 minutes too long. Then somehow, they came up with the fun idea that the extra day could happen only in years divisible by 400. This became the rule for the Gregorian calendar that we still use today.
Another fun thing about Leap Year is Ladies’ Privilege, a long-ago tradition in which a woman may ask a man to marry on Leap Day. Presumably, the odd custom was based on an Irish legend. I remember my parents talking about it in the “olden days.”
So, with this in mind, I mentioned to a friend while celebrating her month-long 70th birthday recently, that this year, she wouldn’t be limited to the shortest month for celebrating, because she gets an extra day.
“And also, you can ask a man to marry you this year, if you want,” I said. She was NOT interested – this year or any year.
Seriously, though, what are we going to do with that extra day?
It occurred to me that many of us have had occasion to wish for “one more day,” usually after the passing of a loved one: “I wish I could spend just one more day with my mom/dad/sibling/friend.”
So here’s my thought, especially since Feb. 29 falls on a Saturday: We can consider which of our family and friends that we would miss the most, and do something fun with them.
What are you going to do with your extra day? Check out our Sun on the Street (page 6A) to see what some of your neighbors have planned.