Wednesday

Nothing Displays My Poor Math Skills Quite Like Leap Year.


Happy Birthday, Nicole!  Only YOU would be born on Leap Year! Love you!
When my best friend Nicole and I were little, we would imagine what lives would be like when we grew up.  We would pretend we married brothers and lived next door to each other.  Didn't we all do that with our best friends?  As we got older and I moved away, our lives went on roller coasters, with one steady constant being our friendship.  When my sister-in-law died at 36 after a ten year battle with  Cancer, my brother-n-law was distraught as any man could be.  Nicole was still single and living in Ohio, where I had moved away from years before.  Nearly a year later after her devastating death, Hubs and I were receiving 10pm calls from each of them, separately, lamenting about the dating world and the lack of quality in their potential suitors.  Hubs said to me, "why don't those two call each other and stop calling us at 10:00 at night!"  I laughed at the thought of matching them up because I would never dare to dream that big...Hubs, on the other hand, always dreams in Technicolor.  We flew to Ohio with my brother-n-law and played matchmaker.  A year after their first date, my best friend married my brother-n-law and moved to New Hampshire.  Who knew so many years ago that we would be the sisters we always thought we were - only this time, it was by law. It's Nicole's birthday today.  As if birthdays aren't hard enough to remember with my mommy brain, her birthday in particular has me questioning what year it is, how often Leap Year is, why Leap Year exists, etc.  I can't help but wonder if this was the rare kind of blessing that gave her the chance to be my sister-n-law.  So many superstitions surround this day and  I have been dealing with the confusing details of this since we were kids.  I thought I might take a minute to explain the ins and outs of this odd occurrence.  Won't you be smart when you can add to the Leap Year banter at the water cooler this morning? 

First - the facts.

Why do we need Leap Years?  Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds (a tropical year)– to circle once around the Sun. However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn't add a day on February 29 nearly every 4 years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days!  3 criteria must be met to be a leap year: The year is evenly divisible by 4, if the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless, the year is also evenly divisible by 400, then it is a leap year.

 Leap Year Wives Tales:

The Irish:  Women propose to their 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. Rumor has it  if a man refuses your marriage proposal on a leap year when you ask him on February 29th, he will suffer a terrible fate or have bad luck for the remainder of the leap year!

Marry me, or be doomed.  Brilliant tactic!
The Greeks:  In Greece it’s said to be unlucky for couples to marry during a Leap Year, and especially on Leap Day. To this day, many Greek couples will not plan a wedding during a leap year, for fear of jinxing the marriage.

Leave it to little old Greek Ladies to find bad luck in Leap Years.  (This is my Thea (Aunt) Sophia in Cyprus, RIP)
The US: People born on February 29 are all invited to join The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies - other organizations are The Society for the Preservation of Youth, and The mysterious Headlight-Sun Order of 29'ers.


I'll end this  with why it is called leap year when we are adding an extra day. Hundreds of years ago in England, the British government didn't recognize February 29ths as having any 'legal' status,so any court events, contracts written, etc were not legally recognized on that day, and therefore were 'leapt over' as though it didn't officially exist, adopting the name Leap Year.  Stupid.  Yes.  But that's how it came to be.

In the end, I say to Nicole - you have never done anything according to the norm, why should your birthday be any different?  Happy 10th Birthday my Dearest (and Youngest), Old Friend!  You don't look a day over 40! Love you!

True enough.  I find myself counting on my fingers until I finally figure out how old she is.

Happy Leap Year and Other Silly Wishes,
~DG

3 comments:

  1. You are totally living out so many little girls' dreams with your sister! I think that is such a sweet story. I remember having those same hopes. Happy Leap Year and thanks for jump starting my brain this morning with the math...now my brain hurts a little. xoxo

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  2. I did NOT know that there was not a leap year if the year is divisible by 100 unless it's divisible also by 400....(Good Lord!!)
    Happy Birthday to your friend! Yall ARE lucky to have eachother. :)

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  3. great story... thank you for the Leap Year info ~I had no idea!

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