Remember as a child learning the verse:
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November
All the rest have 31,
Except for February.
What about February? Well, in three out of four February’s there are 28 days, but in a Leap Year there are 29 days. This year is a Leap Year and, accordingly, this February 29 is Leap Day. Why is this necessary?
At the decree of Julius Caesar in 46 B.C., one day was added to the calendar in order to synchronize our calendar with the Earth’s orbit around the sun. To simplify, the Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to orbit the sun every year. It’s that .25 of a day that creates the need for a leap year every four years.
Like many astrological events, Leap Day has a tradition. In Ireland and England tradition allows women to propose marriage to a man on that day. It is questionable how this tradition came to be. One belief is that in 5th century Ireland St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long to be asked to marry, and St. Patrick decided that on Leap Day it should be allowed. Another belief is that the five-year-old Queen Margaret of Scotland enacted a law setting fines for men who turned down marriage proposals from women during leap year. Regardless of when or how this tradition came to be, it appears from a quick review of YouTube videos that this tradition continues throughout the world. Fortunately, in our modern age, it is now okay for women to propose marriage on any day of the year.
Of course, the tradition was captured on postcards during the Postcard Era in the early 1900’s. Here are two examples from my collection. The first card is quite serious, a direct request for marriage. This postcard was sent to Mr. Chas. P. Arthur, Hampton, Iowa. The sender wrote: "Wish I was with you or you were with me... either one would be all right. Don't you think? Lovingly, Alethie".
"My dear and much respected sir, I send you this your love to stir; I ask your heart not in a jest, and hope you'll grant my fond request. I'll be your wife until you die. And now await your prompt reply."
Celebrate this Leap Day by watching the delightful rom-com, "Leap Year." Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen the movie, don't watch this film clip!