Today is 29th February, day 1 of a year of 366 days instead of the usual 365. So it is a special day and every special day is to celebrate and be happy. Happy Leap Year; to one and all.
Our little celebration started yesterday itself. We watched the lovely movie ‘Leap Year’ last evening – an American romantic comedy film directed by Anand Tucker. We watched it soon after its release in 2010 and then on the Leap Day in 2012. Lovely movie, wish you can watch it today, it has a strong Leap Day connection.
India does not have any superstitions and traditions attached to Leap Day or Leap Year. Except for the fact that a child born on 29th February is very special and is mostly introduced by the family as a ‘Leapling’. And the daily wage earners get to earn a day’s extra income in February of Leap Year and the monthly salaried have to work an extra day with no benefit. But elsewhere there are some very strong beliefs…In Finland and Ireland women are advised to propose on Leap Year Day for good luck and a very happy married life. In Greece it is the opposite, getting married in a Leap Year is considered inauspicious. In the movie I mentioned above ‘Leap Year’ a lady by name Anna Brady plans to travel from Boston to Dublin, Ireland, to propose marriage to her boyfriend Jeremy on Leap Day as per Irish tradition and a very interesting and a lovely story unfolds. You must watch this movie. I have attached the Official Trailer of this movie to enthuse you to watch it.
Now coming to the origin of this tradition, the legend is that St. Brigid of Kildare, a fifth-century Irish nun, asked St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, to grant permission for women to propose marriage after hearing complaints from single women whose suitors were too shy to propose. Initially, he granted women permission to propose only once every seven years, but at Brigid’s insistence, he acceded and allowed proposals every Leap Day. The folk tale tells that Brigid then dropped to a knee and proposed to St. Patrick that instant, but he refused, kissing her on the cheek and offering a silk gown to soften the disappointment. The Irish tradition therefore demands that any man refusing a woman’s Leap Day-proposal must give her a silk gown.
All this is quite interesting but then why at all this phenomena of Leap Year. The answer is very simple. The standard calendar year is of 365 days but in reality our planet the Earth actually takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to go completely around the Sun. This is called the Solar Year. And in order to keep the calendar cycle synchronized with the seasons, one extra day is (usually) added every four years as February 29th.