, also known as Leap Day, usually occurs every four years. This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure to pace the Earth's orbit around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 (a tropical year) to orbit around the sun. Since the calendar has only 365 days in a year, we must add a day (we make it February 29th
) nearly every 4 years to balance it out. Otherwise, we would lose approximately six hours off our calendar every year. That would be about 24 days every 100 years!
Because of the rarity of Leap Day, a strange tradition has emerged throughout history. According to an old Irish legend, St. Bridget struck a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men every 4 years. It is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in the same way that Leap Day balances the calendar. In some places, Leap Day has been known as “Bachelor's Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a new gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day. In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman's proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. There were even laws governing this tradition in the medieval times!
Regardless of the cause or history of Leap Day, it is still an extra day compared to normal years. So enjoy these extra 24 hours to the fullest!
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