Lucinda Newell Column
To be seen pottering along the highways and byways of Luton in her Mini Clubman, her trusted Scottie Malcolm at her side, our super sleuthing property rental expert Ms Lucinda Newell is on the case on your behalf!
2012 is a Leap Year and as such we get an “extra day” in February – Leap Day on February 29th. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the history and tradition surrounding this, once every four years, event.
In Britain and most of the world we use the Gregorian calendar. This was adopted in Britain in 1752 and the “extra day” is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure, because the earth does not orbit around the sun in precisely 365 days.
There are a number of interesting superstitions and traditions that revolve around Leap Day on February 29th.
Women can propose to men
According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every 4 years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar.
In some places, Leap Day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.
In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman's proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring.
In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on Leap Day, just like Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. In Greece it’s said to be unlucky for couples to marry during a Leap Year, and especially on Leap Day.
St Oswald’s Day
Leap Day is also St Oswald’s Day, named after an archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. The memorial is celebrated on February 29 during Leap Years and on February 28 during common years.
Leap Day birthdays
People born on February 29 are all invited to join The Honor society of Leap Year Day Babies.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, there are record holders both of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29 and of the number of children born on February 29 in the same family.
I’ve never been sure whether I would like to have been born on February 29th or not. On the one hand I would only be about a quarter of my age now but I would only have had a quarter of the birthday presents I have enjoyed over the years.
Looking into the history was fascinating and it seems to me that the most important aspect is to use the extra time wisely.
Come on Malcolm - Walkies!