Will she propose on Monday?

2016-02-24 06:00

THIS is a leap year, with 366 days instead of 365. The reason for having to work that extra day in February nearly every four years is because the extra day is vital because a complete orbit around the sun takes slightly longer than 365 days – five hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds longer, to be exact. Many moons ago a 355-day calendar was observed, with an extra 22-day month every two years. But in 45BC Julius Caesar ordered his astronomer, Sosigenes, to simplify things. He opted for the 365-day year with an extra day every four years to use up the extra hours. The extra day was added to February because it used to be the last month of the Roman calendar.

Pope Gregory X111 fine-tuned the system and coined the term “leap year”.

The tradition of women proposing on 29 February is thought to date back to 5th-century Ireland when St Bridget complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for suitors to propose. He then gave women a single day in a leap year to pop the question – the last day of the shortest month. Legend has it that Brigid then proposed to Patrick that instant, but he refused, kissing her on the cheek and offering a silk gown to soften the blow.

In Denmark, a man refusing a woman’s leap day proposal had to give her 12 pairs of gloves, while in Finland the gift for spurning was fabric for a skirt.

One in five engaged couples in Greece avoid getting married in a leap year because they believe it’s bad luck.

In Italy legend has it that women are erratic during a leap year and several proverbs warn against planning important life events in a leap year

In Russia it is believed a leap year is likely to bring more freak weather patterns and a greater risk of death all round. Farming folklore says beans and peas planted in a leap year “grow the wrong way”. People born on February 29 are called “leaplings” or “leapers”. The chance of being born on a leap day is one in 1,461. There are five million leaplings around the world .In Hong Kong the legal birthday of a leapling is March 1 in common years, while in New Zealand it is February 28.

The town of Anthony in Texas, US, is the self-proclaimed “Leap Year Capital of the World”. It holds a festival which includes a guided trip to Aztec Cave, “fun at the horse farm” and square dancing.

In Taiwan, married daughters traditionally return home during the leap month as it is believed the lunar month can bring bad health to parents.

The daughters are told to bring pig trotter noodles to wish them good health and good fortune!

There are lots of proverbs that revolve around leap year. In Scotland, leap year is thought to be bad for livestock,with the proverb "Leap year was ne’er a good sheep year." In Italy, where they say "anno bisesto, anno funesto" (which means leap year, doom year), there are warnings against planning special activities such as weddings.
The reason? Anno bisesto tutte le donne senza sesto, which means "In a leap year, women are erratic."

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