Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Leap Year

What do you get when you cross a kangaroo with a calendar? 
… A leap year!

But seriously, for those of you planning on taking advantage of this year’s leap year, and of course this is directed at you ladies, this is your once in every four years chance to pop the all important question. Of course you should make sure that your ‘man to be’, has given you with ample amounts of chocolate on Valentines Day to get you in the mood. Sorry chaps you do still have a look in with the remaining 365 days this year.

So, just how did a leap year become part of our calendar and the emancipated bending of the female knee?

A leap year came about astronomically because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat a set number of days each year, so if our calendar remained the same each year, eventually it wouldn’t correspond to the seasons or seasonal events at all any more. The Gregorian calendar includes an extra day once every four years, in February, which keeps the matter in check.

Historically in fifth century Ireland women were allowed to make marriage proposals. If the man in question refused he was then fined and compensation could range from a kiss, to £1.00 to paying for a silk dress. Because men found this to be a rather unfair system women were only allowed to propose in leap years.

According to English law, 29 February as a day was considered to have no legal status, existing purely to fix a problem in the calendar. Therefore any prevailing custom shouldn’t either that only allowed men propose marriage.

These days there is a Greek superstition that getting married on a leap year is bad luck so generally couples will avoid planning their weddings on a leap year.

So, if the worst-case scenario becomes a reality and your loved one is not ‘ready’, for the plunge there’s always the possibility of trying again in another four year’s. If this is not a very consolatory thought, just remember that Easter is around the corner. Failing that there are some rather fun chocolate fondue fountains on the market these days, to while away the time.

Artwork Wonder Woman: Terry Dodson

Source: Wikipedia

First published in the Connections magazine #18 Winter 2008

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