Doomsday Leap Year and Sadie Hawkins Day
There have been times in our history when we celebrated things that never were and never would be.
Sadie Hawkins Day
Remember the comic strip called Lil Abner? There was a fictional holiday in the strip called Sadie Hawkins Day. On that day, women chased after eligible bachelors and if they caught one they could marry him!
It turns out that the fictional doings of the world of Lil Abner might have had some basis in fact. We humans do tend to commemorate odd and rare events, and so a custom sprang up that allowed females to propose to eligible bachelors or the Leap Day of a Leap Year. Any bachelor who declined was subject to an onerous penalty such as buying the young lady in question twelve pairs of silk stockings.
Be Afraid gentle bachelor! Your liberty is in jeopardy. Hordes of marriage hungry females could be laying traps for you at the very moment...
Meanwhile, back at reality. We may as well take care of the necessaries.
The calendar year is 365 days. The actual solar year is 365.25 days. And so, Leap Year was invented to add a day now and then to keep the calendar from drifting too far from reality.
Every four years a day is added on Feb 29th. Unless the year is divisible by 100. In which case it is not a leap year unless it is also divisible by 400. Over the millenniums it makes everything come out right.
Leap Year Trivia
Some who have birthdays on Feb 29th celebrate their birthdays on Feb 28th or March 1st in non leap years. In some jurisdictions there are even laws that mandate which date can be used.
There are plays where the Leap Year birth date trick is used. For instance, someone is tricked into pledging his service until his 21st birthday. But if he was born on Leap Day he has a birthday only once in every four years...
It is said that what puts the "Leap" in Leap Year is the fact that the Leap Year Day skips over a day. So that say Wednesday is skipped over and it becomes Thursday.
Part of the folklore about Leap days is that certain rules, laws, strictures and customs do not have full force and effect on that day. And so things can stand on their head. Women can propose to men for instance.
In order to regulate time keeping devices precisely, concepts like Leap Seconds also exist.