Today is February 29th of a leap year, a rather noteworthy day both at Smith Mountain Lake and all over the world I think. As I said in my last mention of leap year, I find it fascinating that nature doesn’t quite keep pace with man’s invention of time, and thus we have to compensate by creating Leap Year.
Did you ever wonder how it came to be called leap year? According to the information I found, its origins may surprise you. It’s not because it skips over every 4 years as you might expect, but because in England many years ago the government refused to acknowledge Feb. 29th in a leap year. Thus on that day, nothing that happened had any legal standing, such as documents, contracts, etc. Essentially the British leaped over the year as if it didn’t exist and so it derived the name “Leap Year”.
I also wondered what happens if you should be born on Feb. 29th of a leap year.
Do you only have a birthday every 4 years and age more slowly than the rest of us? Unfortunately not. Most people born on leap year celebrate their birthday yearly as do the rest of us, only on Feb. 28th, or March 1st if they prefer. In regards to legal issues, their birthdays depend on the laws of the country they live in, and most of them accept the use of Feb. 28th as the legal birthday.
And finally a couple more renditions of Leap Year Traditions to amuse you: One story began with an Irish legend that St. Bridget hated the fact that so many young women who were besotted with their beloved, had to wait for him to say the word to marry. So she presented her complaint to St. Patrick, who said any woman in such a state could have the one day of Feb. 29th in any leap year to make their proposal.
In Scotland, a law was passed to similar effect, including the fine allowed the woman should the man refuse. In that country, the woman was also to wear a red petticoat that could partly be seen as she proposed, for good luck.
If you live to be 100 years old you will not experience more than 25 of these unique days in your whole life. So I wish you the most delightful February 29th ever!