Leap for it!

Leap for it!

What does February having 29 days this year have in store for you? The possibilities are endless!

By Dipali Paul

Published: Fri 24 Feb 2012, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:01 PM

What was to be done about those pesky six hours coming at the tail of the 365 days that made a full circle for the four seasons? Ancient Egyptians started the practice of totting up the extra hours and then adding a day to a year every now and then. The Romans latched upon the idea of designating an extra day in February. Then by a papal decree — signed on this day (February 24) 430 years ago — the Gregorian calendar was introduced, and it sorted out the ‘six plus’ conundrum firmly and effectively. A leap year comes every four years, but the last year of a century is not a leap year unless it is divisible by 400. Erm, okay.

Anything this interesting could not be left alone to sit quietly in a corner by itself, so traditions, superstitions and commercial machinations have thrived around the leap year.

Leap year for the romantics

Go head and propose to that man. It is perfectly all right for women to be forward if the day is February 29. It was the merry Irish that done it. Around the 5th century, one of their saints, Bridget, told another of their saints, Patrick, that the ladies could not sit around all year for the M-word to pop up in a coy conversation. So Pat told Bridge to grab the bull by the horn, so to speak, on that day. The Scots improved on that excellent idea a few centuries later. Queen Margaret not only gave a woman the right to propose on February 29, but also ruled that should the object of her affection not be ready, able and willing, he should pay a fine to the spurned suitor — nothing too grim, a piece of silk or a kiss would do.

Leap year for the superstitious

While the Scots saw a good thing in women going after men on the ‘leap day’, if any marriage came of it, the resulting baby had better not be born on the day mama proposed to papa — it is bad luck. The Greeks, on the other hand, have nothing in particular against February 29 infants, but would rather not tie the knot that day, or even on any day in a leap year.

Leap year for the family

February 29 has long been a special day for the Keogh family. They are in the Guinness Book of World Records for producing three generations on that day — Peter Anthony was born in Ireland in 1940, his son Peter Eric was born in the UK in 1964, and granddaughter Bethany Wealth was also born in the UK in 1996. A Norwegian mom named Karin Henriksen went one up and produced three children on successive leap days — daughter Heidi in 1960, sons Olav and Leif-Martin in 1964 and 1968, respectively. Can it be that there is a ‘leap gene’ the top guns in science overlooked? Quick, let’s go get our Nobel Prize.

Leap year for the party people

Obviously, naturally, inevitably, a day that comes round only every four years deserves special offers. Look at this as an extra 24 hours — a windfall from slight wobbles in the cosmic machinery — meant to be spent lolling at a spa, raising a ‘leap toast’ and having, or least planning, a mini-break.

The Somerset on Grace Bay resort at Turks & Caicos, the Caribbean, has a Hop, Skip and a Leap package that offers every fifth night free for travel booked by February 29 for stays through June 30. The Westlake Village Inn, Westlake Village, California, is giving a second night for $29 if you book one night for a regular price. Available Sunday-Thursday nights, and must be booked on the phone (Tel: [818] 889-0230) by February 29 for travel till December 30.

LuxeHotels.com has various deals around the number 29, if bookings are made by you-know-which day. Sanctuary spa at Pullman Hotel, Dubai, is offering 29 per cent off on the leap day. Healey’s, the bar at Jumeirah Lake Towers, is giving away sparkling wine to the first 29 birthday boys and girls who enter the watering hole on February 29. Carry your passport if you want the free bubbly.


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