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Happy Leap Day!


Take a leap with your extra day this year. Waterfall excursion, Med Fest 2015

It’s a special year, 2016, is. We have one extra day in the year, which only comes around every 4 years, on February 29th. But what is so special about the Leap year, and why do we have it?

Let’s be honest, most of us will not even think twice about February 29th or worse even notice it. But delve into Leap years, and it’s actually quite interesting. However, let’s start with how we have 29 days in February every 4 years. Well, it’s quite simple really. It’s because the Earth doesn’t take a full 365 days to make an orbit around the Sun. It takes 365 days and almost 6 hours. So, apparently to make up for the short fall, an extra day is added every 4 years.
But… the plot thickens. But not every 4th year is a leap year. Though the year 2000 has an extra day, the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 did not. The year 2100 will not contain a leap year. Nor will 2200, and 2300 but the year 2400 will be a leap year. So, for most of us we will not see another leap year at the start of new century. The reason for this is that only years that are divisible by 400 can be a leap year but not those which are divisible by 100. So there is the maths… sort of.
And what about people who are born on a leap day. According to the Telegraph, people born on a Leap day are called “leaplings” or “leapers”… though leapers doesn’t sound nice. To close to the word lepers. The apparent chances of being born on a leap day is not that staggering – 1 in 1,500. However, if February 29th comes every 4 years, how does a “leapling” celebrate? On Wikipedia it says that in the UK, if you turn 18 on a non-leap year then it is officially considered as March 1. But some “leaplings” may prefer to celebrate a day early – February 28th instead.
What’s more fascinating is the story/legend/myth that a leap day is when women are allowed to propose to men. This outdated and farcical idea has many origin stories,
But in the late 19th Century, apparently they found it so humours that they started doing Leap Day/Year parties, where not only could women propose to men but also where the entire social gender roles was reversed for the night, reported by the Davenport Library blog:
Dancing commenced that evening with ladies not only being allowed to ask partners to dance, but they were also allowed to walk the floor to search out men for each dance. Other rules for the… never allowing a man to cross the dance floor unattended… always return a gentleman to a good elevated seat after a dance...
Men, who were given fans to carry for the night, had a list of instructions as well for the evening. They were directed to be delicate in their demeanor [sic], blush when addressed by a lady, lightly touch the lady’s arm during a walk around the floor, say “no” and “yes” as needed, dance gracefully and lightly on one’s feet, and never leave his seat without a lady’s escort.
But nobody, or at least none that most people have heard, throws Leap Year parties anymore. Kimberley Hensel from Blogher.com has suggested that perhaps people should celebrate an extra day, and see it as a positive moment for a chance to have extra time to do fun things, or an opportunity to catch up on moments that you may not have time for.
So why not celebrate a Leap Year. There is never a bad moment to throw a party and dance away. In fact, maybe we should bring back the dance parties of yester year in an ironic playful twist. An extra day to dance in 2016… Sounds fun