Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year or a Year to Take a Leap?

I’m fairly certain a high number of blog posts today will refer to leap year or the fact that it’s a leap day in some form or another.  It’s difficult not to comment on something when it comes up only once nearly every four years.

If I were ever asked, I’d have to admit I have never taken much notice to leap year, or the fact that it’s a leap day.  It’s always just been another day to me.  I know of no one with a leap year birthday, a leap year anniversary or any other reason to think about the date except to recognize that it’s an extra day of the year.
An extra day…

Now, if I were given an extra day in a week or even in a month, I might take more notice.  But who ever notices an extra day in a year?  After doing some research, I understand why the extra day each leap year is important.  If we did not have leap years, we would soon notice a shortage of days.  Without leap years, we would actually lose almost 6 hours every year and after 100 years our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days. 
It’s bad enough losing an hour when we have to set our clocks forward, even if we do get the hour back later in the year.

So what do you do with an extra day every four years?  Do you treat it any differently than any other day?  Maybe not; unless you are able to claim you have a leap year birthday or even an anniversary.  Did you know that in the past, leap day was actually viewed differently than any other day?  And that the reason for this discrimination was largely based on the opinion that the day just did not count?
Here are a few fun facts I found while researching about leap year:

·         Years divisible by 100 but not by 400 will not be considered a leap year.  According to that logic, 2100 and 2300 will not be leap years.  The longest time between two leap years is 8 years and the last time this happened was between 1896 and 1904.  The next time it will occur will be between 2096 and 2104.

·         February 29 used to have no recognition in English Law so it was “leapt over” and ignored because it had been decided that the day had no legal status.  Because the day had no legal status, a break in tradition was acceptable and women would be allowed to propose to the man of their choice.

·         In Scotland, if a woman proposed to a man and he had the audacity to refuse her proposal, he would be punished and required to pay a heavy fine with either money or a fine dress.

·         In England, because February 29 had no legal status, any crime committed on that day was considered no crime at all.
Imagine having only one day every four years when a woman could take charge of her life.  Or a day that could result in a financial obligation against a man for NOT accepting a proposal (rather than after he marries and later divorces).  Or, inconceivably, a day when anyone could commit any crime and essentially get away with it just because the day did not legally exist. 

I’m sure many would love to leap over even one day a year if they could but instead of treating the day as if it does not exist, it might be better to treat the day as if it counts for something.
As fun as it is to research the reason and history surrounding leap year, the whole concept of leap year made me think about how important this year has been to me and how I happened to take a “leap” of faith during a leap year.  In taking a leap of faith, I managed to:

·         Make writing a book possible and continue to work towards becoming published

·         Make public to my family and friends the fact that I wrote a book

·         Put myself out there by creating and maintaining this Blog to share my journey

·         Make the decision to change things up by going back to work at a full-time office job
The results of all the chances I have taken and the changes I have made will not be known for some time but I move forward with great enthusiasm.  Some of the leaps I have taken were after first testing my toe in the water while others were taken feet first but in taking a leap of faith, it is necessary to hurl yourself into the unknown with the belief that the leap will take you somewhere, even if you don’t know what’s in store for you on the other side. 

Taking a leap of faith also requires taking action to make something happen even if you cannot predict the results.  Faith is the continued belief that the results from the decisions we make or the leaps we take are going to be rewarding and worth the wait. 
It is, therefore, poetic that the year I decide to take a leap of faith happened to be a leap year.
It is a coincidence and that’s all but think about it if you have an inclination to leap into something new or make a change in some way.  You have an extra day this year.  What will you do with it?  What about taking some time to think about your life, tally what you have, what you desire, what you hope to do and who you hope to be, and use the days that follow to make some changes to work towards your ultimate goals in life?

It really doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend the day.

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