This year of our Lord 2008, is a leap year. Now some of the good people of Smith Mountain Lake may be wondering, as I did recently, what leap year is exactly? Most of us know it involves an extra day in the month of February, but why does that extra day exist?
Wikipedia explained it the simplest:
A leap year is a year containing one or more extra days in order to keep the calendar year synchronised with the astronomical or seasonal year. For example, February would have 29 days in a leap year instead of the usual 28. Seasons and astronomical events do not repeat at an exact number of full days, so a calendar which had the same number of days in each year would over time drift with respect to the event it was supposed to track. By occasionally inserting an additional day into the year, the drift can be corrected.
I found that knowledge to be quite interesting. Also of interest is the fact that a leap year occurs only in years exactly divisible by 4, the last one being 2004 and the one after this will be 2012. Even more fascinating to me are the host of crazy and fun traditions that have sprung up around the occurrence of a leap year. Here are just a few of those I found:
Though our country is now a mix of ideology, traditionally it is still the man who makes the proposal of marriage to the woman. But guys beware on Feb. 29th of each leap year, for then it is the woman who has the right to propose. And should the fellow turn down her proposal then he must pay a fine. The fine can be anything the girl decides, from an expensive dinner on him, to a big smooch. If they don’t pay the fine they will have bad luck the rest of the year.
In Greece they keep this same tradition, but they frown on having weddings in a leap year as they think it likely to jinx the marriage.
And just think guys, if you could talk your betrothed into getting married on this unique day, you would only have to remember your anniversary every 4 years……