Happy Leap Day!

[published Feb. 29, 2008]

I won’t be able to blog this holiday for another four years, so I better make this one count.

Leap Day is the day that keeps our calendar in line with the sun and the seasons in whack (as opposed to out of whack). The addition of a regular Leap Day every for years as opposed to a lunar calendar or an “intercalary month” added at arbitrary intervals, is what made the Julian calendar (pardon the expression) Leap Years ahead of its Roman predecessors. The rules of Leap Year also necessitated the change to the Gregorian calendar 1500 years later.

But I’ve already blogged about the history and transformation of Leap Day and the calendar at length in Are You Bissextile?“,  “Why January 1 Marks the New Year,” and “Secrets of Dating.”

Instead, just random facts for Leap Day:

For centuries in Western culture Leap Day has been known as the day when women can legally propose to men. One legend has it this is because of a deal St. Brigid made with St. Patrick.

Leap Day hasn’t occurred on a Friday in 28 years.

The Gregorian calendar repeats its cycle every 400 years. During that cycle Leap Day is more likely to fall on a Monday or Wednesday than any other day.

Leap Day has come to be known as Sadie Hawkin’s Day in the U.S., because both holidays allow women to ask out men. But Sadie Hawkins Day, which began in the 1930s, was originally celebrated on November 15.

Sadie Hawkins Day grew out of a comic strip called “Lil’ Abner” by Al Capp. In the comic strip the annual Sadie Hawkins Race had been established by Sadie’s father. He was afraid she’d never find a husband, so he started a foot race between the town’s unmarried girls and beaus. If a woman caught up to the man of her choice, he would be required to marry her. (A good way to keep boyfriends in tip-top shape!)

Today Leap Year Babies celebrate one hell of party, since they won’t have another birthday until 2012.

And guys, be on the lookout!