Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year Trivia

Just by clicking on Google's cute Leap Year logo, here is what I learned: (my thanks to wikipedia)

No Leap Year in 2100
Leap years are years with 366 days, instead of the usual 365. Leap years are necessary because the actual length of a year is 365.242 days, not 365 days, as commonly stated. Basically, leap years occur every 4 years, and years that are evenly divisible by 4 (2004, for example) have 366 days. This extra day is added to the calendar on February 29th. However, there is one exception to the leap year rule involving century years, like the year 1900. Since the year is slightly less than 365.25 days long, adding an extra day every 4 years results in about 3 extra days being added over a period of 400 years. For this reason, only 1 out of every 4 century years is considered as a leap year. Century years are only considered as leap years if they are evenly divisible by 400. Therefore, 1700, 1800, 1900 were not leap years, and 2100 will not be a leap year. But 1600 and 2000 were leap years, because those year numbers are evenly divisible by 400.

Thinking of Proposing, Girls?
In the English speaking world, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only on leap years. While it has been argued that the tradition was initiated by Saint Patrick or Brigid of Kildare in 5th century Ireland, it is dubious as the tradition has not been attested before the 19th century. Supposedly, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow. Because men felt that put them at too great a risk, the tradition was in some places tightened to restricting female proposals to the modern leap day, 29 February, or to the medieval leap day, 24 February. According to Felten: "A play from the turn of the 17th century, 'The Maydes Metamorphosis,' has it that 'this is leape year/women wear breeches.' A few hundred years later, breeches wouldn't do at all: Women looking to take advantage of their opportunity to pitch woo were expected to wear a scarlet petticoat -- fair warning, if you will."

Happy Birthday Leaplings!
A person born on February 29 may be called a "leapling". In common years they usually celebrate their birthdays on 28 February or 1 March. For legal purposes, their legal birthdays depend on how different laws count time intervals. In Taiwan, for example, the legal birthday of a leapling is 28 February in common years, so a Taiwanese leapling born on February 29, 1980 would have legally reached 18 years old on February 28, 1998. Some famous Leaplings? Antonio Sabato Jr., Ja Rule, Dennis Farina, Tony Robbins

1 comment:

BJ said...

Look at that, you learn something new everyday! I didn't realize the issue about the centuries.