Today, the 29th February or ‘leap day’ gives us an extra day once every four years, but why?
While most modern calendar years have 365 days, a complete revolution around the Sun (one solar year) takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours so every four years an extra 24 hours accumulates meaning an extra day has to be added to the calendar in order to align the calendar with the sun’s apparent position. Without the added day, the seasons would move back in the calendar.
On this day, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage to their beloved. In 1288 the Scots passed a law stating that any man who declined the proposal on this day would have to pay a fine. In Denmark, if a man turns down the proposal, he has to give the woman 12 pairs of gloves, presumably to cover her emarrassment of not having an engagement ring. In Finland the fine is fabric for a skirt!
Someone who is born on the 29th February is called a ‘leapling’, in non leap years they can choose which day to celebrate the birthday, sadly for them, it doesn’t mean they can age once every four years.
And the saddest truth about the 29th February is that we get paid for a 365 day year and this year is 366, so technically we are doing this Monday for free – Happy Monday.