Every four years another leap year comes round. It is clearly an inconvenience and disappointment for those people born on the 29th day of February and yet on the up side, it’s a talking point and they can celebrate their birth on a day of their choice, because in a way, the day they were born simply doesn’t exist three years out of every four. For their colleagues, friends and family it’s a win, win situation as this means they are really only obligated to cough up for cards and presents on the same number of occasions….
For young women it is traditionally an opportunity to propose to their boyfriends. A bit outdated nowadays, but this is apparently a tradition that goes way back to the 5th Century, when it was probably a much handier proposition, literally. It is said that St Bridged of Kildare asked St Patrick for help to enable women to propose to long term suitors and get them to the altar! It is however, a little known fact that the small print relating to the granting of this favour meant that the women concerned had to wear a scarlet petticoat or breeches. I guess today trousers and shorts might do? …
The whole malarkey with Leap Year is ancient. Julius Caesar first introduced the concept into the calendar over 2000 years ago. Alas the failure of successive generations to include an extra day at correct times meant that in 1752 with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar several days had to be lost that year in order to realign the calendar with the seasons.
It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds, to circle once around the Sun, (a tropical year which starts on the March Equinox), but the Gregorian calendar only includes 365 days a year. These few hours, minutes and seconds equate to an extra day approximately every 4 years, hence, 29th February.
It is worth noting that in parts of Wales including the Gwaun Valley in Pembrokeshire, there was never an acceptance of the calendar change in the mid 18th Century. Even to this very day, there are still people who use the old Julian calendar and celebrate national events on different days to the rest of us. I bring to your attention New Year. Whereas most of us celebrate on the 1st January, in Gwaun Valley they celebrate the event on the 13th January. Brilliant! Legitimatish reason for two parties and that’s just January! Take into consideration Bessie’s pub and I mean, what’s not to love?