Today is that strange phenomenon we call Leap Day! A four yearly ephemeral ghost that doesn’t exist for the remainder of the time.
In simple scientific terms it marks a leap in time when the calendar is adjusted to facilitate additional minutes caused by the Earth’s rotation. Indeed, each rotation around the Sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours to complete; hence an extra day is added to the calendar every four years when an additional 24 hours have accumulated. It’s a day of temporal tune up so to speak!
But what of those people born on this rarest of ocassion? Literature refers to them as ‘leaplings’ or ‘leapers’ – people who, in theory, enjoy 75% fewer birthdays than the rest of us! However not to be discriminatory; those people whose birthday falls on 29th February are granted special privilege, between leap years, of celebrating their nativity a day earlier (as in the USA and New Zealand) or later (as in the UK and Hong Kong), if they so choose.
A special privilege, of a more whimsical nature is that of ‘ladies privilege’ which asserts that leap years grant women the ‘privilege’ of proposing marriage to men (as opposed to the other way round). The first records of this tradition can be found in Scotland, around 1288. Tradition also states that any man who declined a proposal in a leap year must pay a fine – a kiss, a new silk dress or a pair of gloves! Given the current rate of inflation, I wonder what that would amount to in todays World?!
For me the day holds one of those truely rare moments of delightful uncertainty – a day of unlocked potential! Will I, won’t I? Should I, shouldn’t I? Of course, being a married lady, I can’t get down on bended knee and offer up a proposal to my other half … but I am considering using this day to do something daring and unlike myself!