This is a day that comes around but once every four years. A friend of mine often bragged about her age being just 1/4 of her life years because she had only had a birthday in leap years.
Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone
Which has but twenty-eight,
But twenty-nine each leap year.
Here are a few fun facts about Leap Year Day:
- My friend shares her 29th of February birthday with only about 187,000 other Americans.
- Leap years began during the reign of Julius Caesar to balance out the calendar.
- There is an Irish tradition that St. Brigid made a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men – not just the other way around – every four years.
- Scots believed that being born on Leap Year Day would bring a life of misery and suffering.
- Astrologers, on the other hand, thought that those lucky enough to be born on this day would be both handsome and talented.
- The Guinness Book of World Records has verified one family with three consecutive generations born on February 29. Peter Anthony Keogh was born on 29 February 1940, his son, Peter Eric, was born on Leap Year Day in 1964 and his grandchild, Bethany Wealth, was born in 1996.
- The Henriksen family in Norway has three children with verified births on February 29 – daughter Heidi in 1960, followed by son Olav in 1964 and another son, Leif-Martin, in 1968.
- 29 February 1504 was an important day for Christopher Columbus. He was marooned on Jamaica and facing starvation because the Indians were no longer helping the explorer and his crew. Columbus was aware that there would be a lunar eclipse on that day and told the Indians that God would punish them for not helping the Europeans by making the moon disappear. Right on cue, the sky blackened and the moon disappeared, scaring the Indians. After about an hour, the predicted length of the eclipse, the chiefs agreed to provide food and other help if the moon would be returned. Of course, Columbus did “bring it back” and the island natives remained friendly and helpful for several months until another European ship arrived.
- It is said that a man who receives a marriage proposal on 29 February can NOT say no.
Lastly, there is a Greek superstition that it is bad luck to marry anytime during a leap year and couples will postpone weddings until leap year has finished.
Enjoy this Leap Year Day since we have to wait four years for the next one!