A quick search on the World Wide Web reveals that every four years, an extra day is added as the calendar synchronised with the seasonal year. This extra day is added in the month of February and the particular year is called a leap year.
The leap year brings with it different myths and traditions and among these is a centuries-old custom, normally observed by the British and Irish, which allows women to propose marriage throughout the year.
Technically, though, you’d have to be one lucky bugger to be born on this day. We say lucky because the chances of being born on a leap day are 1 in 1,461. BTW, people born on February 29 are called ‘leaplings’ or ‘leapers’. And the worldwide population of ‘leapers’ is roughly 50,00,000.
So, here’s recounting some facts and retelling some myths about our four-yearly visitor:
1) Being born on February 29 is extremely unlucky
While this myth is prevalent in India too, the Scottish believed that if you’re born on the Leap Day, your life will have an everlasting stream of suffering.
Well, the only bad luck we can think of right now is not having one’s birthdays recognised by computer systems!
2) On a leap day, a man can’t refuse a woman’s plea to get married and valentine’s gift come from the ladies.
Yup, that’s right! Women, get ready to pop the question, NOW!
According to an old Irish legend, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men–and not just the other way around–every four years. This was probably their way of “maintaining balance”.
In Zimbabwe, men usually spoil their loved ones one way or the other on Valentine’s but since 2020 is a leap year, tables might just turn, with the ladies expected to be in the forefront of spoiling their partners.
In Scotland, there was even a time when the unmarried Queen Margaret ordered to impose a fine for men who would deny a woman her dream marriage. How we wish that fine could stand true today!
3) You shouldn’t get married/divorced during a leap year
In Greece, couples choose not to get married during a leap year, which makes this year really tragic for those working around it. There’s also a superstition that divorced couples who are separated during a leap year will never find happiness again. Now, that’s heavy!
4) Astrologers believe people born on February 29 have unusual talents
No no, not magic powers and the likes. Just talents like the ability to burp the alphabet or paint like Picasso (no biggie!).
1) Anthony, Texas is the self-proclaimed ‘Leap Year Capital of the World’. It holds a festival that includes a guided trip to Aztec Cave, “fun at the horse farm” and square dancing.
2) Matthew Goode, the British film star who acted in the film Leap Year, said he knew the movie would be remembered as the “worst film of 2011” but wanted to be “close to home and able to visit his girlfriend and newborn daughter.”
3) February 29 also marks Rare Disease Day.
4) Hugh Hefner opened his first Playboy Club on February 29, 1960.
5) The French call leapfrog “saute-mouton”, which translates literally as “leap sheep”.
6) The frog is a symbol associated with February 29. The Australian rocket frog can leap over two metres.