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By John Broetje | Blog | Feb 24, 2016
Happy Leap Year Day! And Happy Birthday to anyone who is 1/1,461 of the people born on this day! Many people may wonder why we even have this day?
As you may or may not know, there are 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds in our calendar year. Over time those exact 5 hours and 48 minutes add up and therefore to balance our Gregorian calendar to the solar calendar, we add a day every 4 years.
*phew* now we have that out of the way. Let’s talk about quirky leap year facts!
Only Swedes and Hobbits celebrate February 30th
This even rarer date occurred in Sweden and Finland until 1712, when they added an extra Leap Day to February to help catch up their outdated Julian calendar with the new Gregorian Calendar. There is one race of people who still celebrate February 30th every year and that is…the Hobbits. The week folk of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe observe twelve 30 day months every year including Solmath (translated in the text to February).
There is an official drink of Leap Day
And guess what it is called…The Leap Day Cocktail! It is a cousin of the martini and was invented by bartender Harry Craddock at London’s Savoy Hotel in 1928. And guess what! We have the recipe for your to make it!
1 Dash Lemon Juice
1/6 Grand Marnier
1/6 Sweet Vermouth
Shake, pour, garnish with a lemon peel and serve!
Grab a copy of a rare French magazine
…if you are in France. La Bougie du Sapeur is a French parody magazine that is only published on one day every four years. Newsstands sell copies for 4 euro a piece or you can get a generous lifetime subscription – only 100 euro per century.
Ladies can propose to men on Leap Years
The tradition of women proposing on Leap Day is thought to date back to 5th century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait to long for suitors to propose. He then gave women a single day in a leap year to pop the question. Legend has it that Bridgit then dropped to a knee and proposed to St. Patrick that instant but he refused, kissing her on the cheek and offering a silk gown to soften the blow.
Other believe it was a tradition that originated in Scotland when Queen Margaret, then aged just five, declared in 1288 that a woman could propose to any man she liked on February 29th. She ruled that men who refused had to pay a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress, a pair of gloves or a fine of one pound. To give suitors fair warning – a possibly a chance to escape – a woman was required to wear breeches or a scarlet petticoat on the day of the proposal.