Saturday, February 29, 2020

Leap Year


Why a leap year? 

The Gregorian Calendar, implemented by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, has 365 days. However, it takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to make one complete orbit around the sun. Rather than have calendars show 365 and a quarter days each year, it is more practical to add a day each 4 years. 

Not every 4 years, though . . .

A leap year rule is that a century year cannot be a leap year unless it is divisible by 400. So: 

- 2000 was a leap year because it can be evenly divided by 400. 

- 2100 will not be a leap year because 2100 is not divisible by 400. 

- 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years for the same reason. 

- 1600 was a leap year. 

Julian Calendar leap years . . .

The Julian Calendar, which was replaced by the Gregorian Calendar, also had leap years using February 23 as the leap year date. 

Why is it called a leap year?

The term leap year probably comes from the fact that a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar normally advances one day of the week from one year to the next, but the day of the week in the 12 months following the leap day (from March 1 through February 28 of the following year) will advance two days due to the extra day, thus leaping over one day in the week. 

For example, Christmas Day, December 25. fell on a Tuesday in 2012, Wednesday in 2013, Thursday in 2014, and Friday in 2015, but then leapt over Saturday to fall on a Sunday in 2016 

Women proposing . . .

In Ireland and Britain, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only in leap years. While it has been claimed that the tradition was initiated by Saint Patrick or Brigid of Kildare in 5th century Ireland, this is dubious, as the tradition has not been attested before the 19th century. 

Supposedly, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation was deemed to be a pair of leather gloves, a single rose, £1 and a kiss.

In some places the tradition was tightened to restricting female proposals to the modern leap day, February 29, or to the medieval leap day, February 24. 

Some vintage Leap Year cards . . .

As with most vintage special occasion cards there is a fair amount of politically incorrect content in the Leap Year cards, mostly sexist but also even racist, as these examples show:

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