Leaping Into the New Year
The Need to Know Department
By Savannah Perry, Clarion Staff
In February, an extra day will be added at the end of the month which means the 2nd month of 2016 will have twenty nine days instead of the common twenty eight. This makes it a leap year, otherwise known as an intercalary or bissextile year when an extra day is added to the calendar to keep it synchronized with the astronomical year.
This process evens out the number of days that drift over each year from previous seasons since these events do not repeat in whole days. A leap day corrects this problem and is only needed every four years according to the Gregorian calendar. The years that are not lucky enough to possess this extra day are appropriately called common years.
Since leap years have been occurring for some time, certain traditions and myths have been created to accompany such an event.
In Britain and Ireland women were only allowed to propose marriage in a leap year. If the man refuses he has to pay a penalty of some sort, typically a pair of gloves to cover the shame of not wearing an engagement ring.
This British/Irish tradition is played out nicely in the movie “Leap Year”, where an American woman, played by the charismatic Amy Adams, attempts to propose during a leap year to her boyfriend in Ireland but in the process meets another man played by Matthew Goode.
Conversely, in Greece, it was traditionally considered unlucky to get married during a leap year. Those born on the leap year call themselves leapers or leaplings. They are also all invited to join the Honor Society of Leap Year Day babies.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars everyone. As of March 1st, you will not be seeing February 29th again for
another four years.