Monday, February 27, 2012

Intercalary Year

Intercalary year or leap year comes along once every four years according to the Gregorian calendar. Intercalating is a fancy word for inserting another day into the year. The earth rotates around the sun in a little bit less than 356.25 days. To avoid shifting a day every four years is tacked onto February. Years divisible by four are leap years. There are exceptions, years divisible by four and 100 are not leap years unless the year is also divisible by 400. For example year 1900 wasn't a leap year, but year 2000 was. The Gregorian calendar isn't the only one that accounts for the extra quarter day per year. The Chinese, Hebrew, and Hindu calendars have a lunisolar calendar. The calendars add another month in their year. The Hebrew calendar calls the extra month Alef Adar or first Adar and is put before Adar. This extra month is added 7 times every 19 years.
There are some interesting traditions surrounding leap year. In the British Isles, women could propose to men during leap year. It is said that Queen Margaret of Scotland fined men if they refused and they had to compensate the lady with at lease a kiss and sometimes up to a silk gown. This was to soften the blow. Finland and Denmark have similar traditions with different compensation for being turned down, 12 pairs of gloves and material to make a skirt respectively. In Greece it is considered bad luck to be married on leap year. 
The chance of being born on leap day (Feb 29) is 1 in 1500. One of my friends was born on leap day in 1984. She is turning 7 this year. When we were in college we celebrated her fifth birthday. It was a particularly exciting birthday because she was a whole hand. Ladies, if it seems like your man will never pop the question maybe you should take the initiative and ask him. If he refuses you can get a pair of gloves or a silk gown. Enjoy your leap day!