Yes, its Leap Day! Which means 1 extra day is added to the calendar year, to which the Mayans said “make the most of it” – that is a joke I got from Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. As many of you might know, because their calendar only goes up to the hear 12.12.12 its thought to be the end of civilization, however, its a flaw of the mechanism, not a doomsday prediction. I think every year, maybe even twice a year, some sect of some culture of some country of some religion say the world will end due to one factor or another. Maybe a great war, flood, misalignment with the Sun, earthquake and/or asteroid will destroy the Earth and all of its civilizations.
But, back to leap day, it comes once very 4 years because because the earth does not orbit around the sun in precisely 365 days, its off by 6 hours each year, so in 4 years that would be a day we need to add to make that 4th year 366. Even that is not accurate and even this is different within each culture/continent/religion. I guess my favorite pieces of trivia for this day come from a few sources:
1) In Brittian this is the ONLY day where it is acceptable for a woman to propose to a man, this tradition is carried over into other English-speaking cultures as well.
2) In the fantastic Operetta Pirates of Penzance, a young man who was captured by pirates is overjoyed because he is able to be set free on his 21st birthday is very much disappointed when he learns he was born on February 29th, which means he is not 21, but only 5 years old, so he is still enslaved to the pirates for at least another 50 years. Its a comedy, so you can see how this can be funny even for an Operetta.
3) For Greeks it is unlucky to marry in a leap year. So if you got engaged in 2011, you might just have to wait till 2013 to actually be married… more time to consider your circumstances.
Of course the list runs on and on. But I think the most interesting thing is what year is it actually? If the Earth’s movement has been off by one day each year for 2000 years that means 500 days are lost and its really 2010? or is it 2014? It just goes to show how even time or time perception is irrelevant. People put too much importance on dates and specific years. The Chinese claim a child is 1 year old upon birth because its already been alive for almost a year during conception and pregnancy. The Jewish faith claim that 13 years of age is when boy or girl becomes a man or woman with a Barmitzvah (for males) and a Batmitzvah for females). In Spanish cultures, 15 years is the age of consent, while in the USA its the Sweet 16 that is the age of womanhood.
So, like anything else, take it with a grain of salt. Celebrate this day with a special meal, a special proposal, a special party in the gloom of winter, or even if you are really blessed you will have a child born this day, which is rare but its a special day, enjoy it!