John Grindrod: Leap year, leap day, leaplings


By John Grindrod - Contributing Columnist



In the interest of public service, I think it would be wrong of me to ignore the anomalous event that is almost upon us. Monday, all of us will get to experience our first Feb. 29 since that Wednesday way back in 2012 and the last Feb. 29 until Saturday, 2020, which we all hope we’ll be here to experience.

Now, for those born on a Feb. 29, Monday is certainly a momentous day, the actual date of their births. Referred to by many as leaplings, these special Feb. 29 birthday folks, at least the adult ones, get to crow about their relative youthfulness since, chronologically although not biologically, they age at only a 25 percent rate compared to those with whom they graduated.

In examining the oddities found within this peculiar calendar event, consider the case of Louise Estes, a Utah woman who has managed to do something that may never again be done in the stork-delivery category. This Provo, Utah, mother gave birth on leap day in 2012, to a little girl that husband, David, and she named Jade. What’s so unusual about that, you say? Well, it was the THIRD consecutive leap day baby for the couple, with a son, Remington, being born on leap day in 2008, and another son, Xavier, being born on leap day in 2004.

Actually, as astronomically rare as this might seem, according to that noted organization that is the keeper of the oldest and the rarest, those Guinness Book folks, the feat occurred once before, by the Henriksens of Norway, who produced three leaplings in 1960, ’64 and ’68.

As a long-time devotee of baseball, in large part because of my enduring fascination with the sacred statistical and achievement anomalies of the sport, thank you, Henriksens and Esteses! I appreciate your efforts. This is baseball-trivia worthy!

When it comes to this leap year/leap day phenomenon, leap days occur every four years as a means to recalibrate the calendar, because it takes Earth about 365 days and six hours to circle the sun. So without that extra day every four years, we’d actually lose six hours of time a year, at least officially.

Leap year has been around since the days of good old J.C. (Caesar, the Roman general, not THE J.C. of heavenly fame), who implemented the Julian calendar more than 2,000 years ago.

Over time, many superstitions and traditions have evolved. One item of note is directed toward my readers of the fairer sex. Now, if you happen to be single with a significant guy, Monday would be the day to play role reversal, drop to a knee and pop the question.

According to the website http://timeanddate.com, the custom traces back to an old Irish legend that may have some elements of historical fact. Supposedly, it was St. Brigid who got together with St. Patrick to allow women to do the asking that day so as to balance the age-old roles of men and women in much the same way that leap day balances the calendar.

In some parts of the world, Scotland for instance, many consider leap day unlucky for leaplings. In Greece, many others see leap day as an unlucky day to wed. Forgetful husbands might be thinking, hmm, maybe if I’d have gotten married on leap day, it would have been lucky for me because I’d get in 75 percent less trouble for forgetting our anniversary!

When it comes to this whole marriage-proposal thing on leap day, in some parts of Europe, once upon a Middle Ages, according to http://timeanddate.com, there was a penalty to be paid for any man who rejected a lady’s proposal on leap day. Supposedly, to heal the delicate feelings of the fairer sex, feelings that some feel rival only the delicate nature of those famous Faberge eggs made for Russian Tsars, if a man rejected the proposal, he had to buy the spurned a gown or give her some money.

In some places, the penalty to be paid for a rejected proposal was 12 pairs of gloves, which could be worn to cover the fact that there was no engagement ring, thus, alleviating embarrassment for the rejected ringless gal.

As for the famous who, once upon a time, celebrated as leapling, the list includes a devout worshipper (Pope Paul III), a belter of songs (Dinah Shore) and a one-time belter of baseballs (Al Rosen).

While it’s easy for all those leaplings out there to figure out a grand way to celebrate the once-every-four-year gift of extra time, for the rest of us, how will we mark this Monday’s gift of extra time? When you fellow nonleaplings see me around town, let me know how you marked the occasion. I’m kind of interested in those sorts of things.

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By John Grindrod

Contributing Columnist

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at grinder@wcoil.com.

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at grinder@wcoil.com.

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