Friday, February 29, 2008

Bottom of the News… Friday, February 29, 2008

Good morning my fellow Rotarians… Yes today is one of those rare days… Leap Day, February 29th.

A leap year has 366 days because the actual length of a year is 365.242 days, not 365 days. Leap years are every 4 years with a few exceptions involving century years, like the year 1900. Since the year is slightly less than 365.25 days long, adding an extra day every 4 years results in about 3 extra days being added over a period of 400 years. So, only 1 of every 4 century years is considered as a leap year. Thus 1700, 1800, 1900 were not leap years, and 2100 and 2400 will not be leap years.

The town of Anthony, TX, organizes a leap year festival to celebrate leap year and leap year babies. It proudly calls itself the leap year capital of the world and leap year “babies”, or leaplings from around the world come to its annual parade and festival.

There is also a lot of superstition and interesting tales that abound about leap years and the date itself. For instance, in Greece, people believe it is bad luck to get married in a leap year.

Superstitious Chinese believe that more accidents and mishaps occur during the leap month in the lunar calendar. They also think that children born in that month are harder to bring up. And most Chinese will not start a business nor get married in a February leap month.

In Ireland, women can propose to a man. This dates back to the fifth century when Saint Brigit complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for men to propose marriage, and so St Patrick decided that in a leap year, women could take the initiative.

Scotland enacted a law in 1288 (authorized by the unmarried five-year-old Queen Margaret) that allowed women the right to corner a man with a proposal. Men who refused would have to pay a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress or a pair of gloves. So, guys, which would you have preferred?

In Australia, over 20 per cent of women support the tradition which says they can propose during a leap year and men are told they cannot refuse such an offer.

In the US a custom was born from the famous comic strip L’il Abner where in the fictional town of Dogpatch, Sadie Hawkins could never attract a husband because she was ugly. Her father set up a day each year when women could literally chase after the bachelors around town in a race. The unlucky guys caught would have to marry the women who nabbed them. While the event was held in November in the comic strip, it evolved into a tradition tied it in to Feb 29. Thus, Sadie Hawkins and WPA dances are popular in late February.

Did you know? • If there were no leap years, after 500 years, we would be celebrating Christmas in August. • The odds of being born on a leap day are one in 1,461, according to The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies. • There are roughly 208,000 leap babies in the United States and 4.5 million in the world.

HOW cool would it be if you were born on Feb 29? You could be 80 and still tell everyone you’ve only celebrated 20 birthdays. Okay to close, here are a few celebrities born on Feb 29…
Dinah Shore, singer and actress
Jimmy Dorsey, American musician and bandleader
Anthony Robbins, motivational speaker

And Superman, according to a Time magazine a few years back, his birthday is on Feb 29. No wonder he never ages!

And there you have it, your once-every-four-years LEAP YEAR Bottom of the News… on this Leap Friday, February 29, 2008. ###

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