ACROSS the globe, February 29 is a curious day for a number of reasons. Imagine only having your birthday once every four years. Although biological signs of your age may be misleading, if you are a ‘leaper’ (someone born on February 29) you rarely get to celebrate your true birthday.
If your birthday is February 29 you are in good company with the likes of Pope Paul III, romantic poet John Byrom and motivational speaker Tony Robbins to name but a few ‘leapers’.
Customary roles are also swapped on February 29 with women the world over proposing to men. According to an old Irish legend – St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men for the day, every four years. It is a custom intended to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how the leap day balances the calendar.
A leap year is an extra day given to February every four years due to the Gregorian calendar not corresponding with the solar system. The Gregorian calendar uses 365 days in a year, as we all know, however a complete orbit of the Earth around the sun actually takes 365.2422 days. In order to keep our clocks and watches synchronised with the days and seasons leap years and leap seconds are added.
All months in the calendar have either 30 or 31 days apart from February. Roman leaders such as Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus added days in July and August (month’s named after them) respectively and February lost out. Originally the Roman calendar only had 355 days but the Romans reformed this with the help of astrologers.
So women, February 29 is your chance to get down on one knee and ask your other half to marry you.. Or you might be waiting another four years.