Leap year

By Judy Bluhm

How was your leap day? We all had the pleasure of having another day added to the calendar, which only happens once every four years. Folklore and superstitions abound around leap day, ever since Julius Caesar introduced it more than 2000 years ago.

I have a lady friend named Monica who proposed to her boyfriend on the last leap ay four years ago. Cheekily, he not only said “no” but gifted her with 12 pairs of gloves – an old Irish tradition. It seems if a woman was “turned down” and humiliated, the least the man could do was give her a new pair of gloves for each month of a year to hide the “shame and embarrassment” of not wearing an engagement or wedding ring. Monica didn’t find the glove gesture very funny.

Did you know there is a town in Michigan called Hell? Every leap year on February 29, 29 lucky couples get married (for free) in Hell’s tiny chapel. As the minister likes to say, “When you get married in Hell, there is nowhere to go but up.” Amen. There are some weird leap day traditions around the world.

Some countries like Greece claim it is “very bad luck” to enter into any kind of contractual agreement on leap day. Do not sign business contracts. Do not start a new job. Never get married on that day. Oh well, Greece is to “Hell and back from Michigan.”

In Scotland, it is considered unlucky to be born on leap day. Well, what do they know?  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, there is a leap day world record holder family that has produced three consecutive generations born on February 29. I’m not sure how that was arranged, but the family considers it a small miracle and good luck.

A woman emailed me to say she just celebrated her 15th birthday. She said she gave birth to her son on her 5th birthday, and although her son is now 40, they have shared 10 birthdays together. That is why leap years are so wild and wonderful.

Leap day was added to the calendar as a “corrective measure” since the Earth does not orbit the sun in precisely 365 days. It is more like 365 days, 5 hours and 48 minutes. That was a pretty clever correction to be implemented 2000 years ago. The extra day, every four years, keeps our calendar accurate and synchronized with Earth’s orbit around the sun.

Leap year is another way of making up for “lost time.” Consider the extra day a gift from the gods (or Julius Caesar) and the significance of an entire year with 366 days. In one Asian country, during a leap year, people try to take off the entire month of February to reset their internal clocks, enjoy a month with added moments and not take anything too seriously. That sounds like a great idea.

Leap year is here. I hope you embraced the extra day.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.