Monday, February 29, 2016

Celebrating Leap Year Day

Every four years, we have the privilege of celebrating Leap Year Day on February 29th (the only exception is century years not divisible by 400). 

Leap Year Day birthdays

It's a really special day for some -- those who celebrate their birthdays on this day (over 4 million worldwide). While it may seem awesome to some, for others, there are some psychological drawbacks to being a Leap Year Day baby. For one thing, they can only celebrate their actual birthday once every four years. That's kind of a drag for children, but it might be a fun thing once you reach the age where you no longer want to celebrate getting older. Unfortunately, Leap Year Day babies don't have the option of aging one year for every four, so even if you've only celebrated your birthday on Leap Year for the past 15 years, there's no getting around the fact that today, you are 60. Happy birthday! By the way, if you live in China, your "official" birthday is February 28th, while in Hong Kong, it's not until March 1st.

For babies born on this day, they're often referred to as leaplings or leapers. And they all seem to have different feelings and opinions on what it's like to be counted among the 4 million of other Leap Year Day babies. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured interviews with some of these "leaplings." You can check it out here. 80-year-old Suzie Harding said it's lots of fun for her granddaughters who, at 28 and 30, are older than their "20-year-old" grandma!

And have you heard about The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies? If you are one, or are the parent of one, you might want to check it out by clicking here.

A bit of history

Leap Year was introduced in 45 BC by Julius Caesar in order to adjust the calendar to contain an average of 365.25 days. Starting in Ireland and Britain, women were permitted to propose marriage during Leap Year. The tradition changes from country to country, where some permitted this proposal to occur only on Leap Year Day. If a man refused, there was a price to pay. The fine, supposedly issued by Queen Margaret of Scotland, was a leather glove (to hide the un-ringed finger), a rose, and a kiss. Maybe the hope was that the kiss would be a game changer. Who knows? In Finland, men who refused proposals were to buy the suitor fabric for a new skirt.

While proposing during leap year is acceptable, some consider it bad luck to marry during leap year. Hmmm. I wonder if there are statistics backing up the claim.

A day to celebrate

Schools, communities, and parents find ways to enjoy this once-every-four-years day. If you're looking for some ideas, click here for 29 fun things to do on Leap Year Day. For me, I'm celebrating with my tribe; a group of writing friends who have gone beyond critiquing each other's stories and have actually become a supportive posse of women I value greatly. We're heading out for dinner and drinks and, undoubtedly, a whole bunch of laughs! 

What are your plans? Will you treat the day any differently? Or maybe, you're one of the lucky ones who were born on this day. I'd love to hear all about your celebration!

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