Fun facts about leap year This Feb. 23, 2016 photo shows a homemade February 2016 calendar illustrating leap year. Feb. 29 is that extra day that rolls around every four years. (AP Photo/Leanne Italie/Thinkstock)
Fun facts about leap year
Lexile

Leap Year is more than just a quirky thing that happens to newborns on the occasional 29th of February.
 
The extra day rolls around every four years. And 2016 is one. It includes a world of lore related to women -- gasp! -- popping the marriage question to men.
 
Here's a look at that magical mark on the calendar as it relates to love and marriage. The information is courtesy of Monmouth University historian Katherine Parkin. She has researched the topic.
 
The year was 1904 when syndicated columnist Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer, aka Dorothy Dix, summed up the Leap Day proposal tradition.
"Of course people will say . . . that a woman's leap year prerogative, like most of her liberties, is merely a glittering mockery."
 
Parkin said, however serious or tongue-in-cheek, it could have empowered women. Instead, she said it merely maintained stereotypes. The proposals were to happen via postcard. But many such cards turned the tables. They poked mean fun at women instead.
 
The end result? Leap Year, according to Parkin, served to reinforce traditional gender roles.
 
Advertising also maintained the marriage games in Leap Years. Parkin, in a 2012 paper in the Journal of Family History, offered one solid example.
 
A 1916 ad by the American Industrial Bank and Trust Co. read thusly: "This being Leap Year day, we suggest to every girl that she propose to her father to open a savings account in her name in our own bank."
 
That, Parkin said, further undercuts the idea that Leap Year somehow offered a breath of independence.
 
Baseball Digest took to running articles showing off bachelor players during some Leap Years in the 1950s and '60s. It listed them by hair and eye color and religion. And, of course, whether they batted left or right.
 
"They were trying to persuade women they were a good catch," Parkin said. "They encouraged single women to window shop."
 
There's a distant European past for Leap Years.
 
One story places it in fifth century Ireland. St. Bridget appeals to St. Patrick to offer women the chance to ask men to marry them, Parkin wrote.
 
Another tale is focused on Queen Margaret of Scotland and a law she supposedly passed in 1228. It ordered a man reluctant to accept a woman's proposal to pay a fine. Or he could present her with a silk gown to make up for his bad attitude.
 
"I think that's all pretend," Parker said.
 
As for the existence of Leap Year itself, history has it that in 46 BCE, Julius Caesar came up with the adjustment. It was to ensure the seasons remain aligned with the calendar. Further adjustments were needed when the Gregorian calendar came along.
 
By the 1780s, there were Leap Year parties that allowed girls to ask boys for a dance. But only on the one night. Ellen Tucker Emerson described the experience in an 1860 letter to her dad, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
 
She said a promenade was held after the dancing, with the boys leaning on the girls' arms and being fanned.
 
"It was very funny and they all had a rousing time," she concluded.
 
One elite Leap Year party was held in New York City every four years. It started in 1924 and continued through 1968. It was one of the most prominent, held at times at the Ritz-Carlton. It was skipped just one time in that period, during World War II. The women outnumbered the men. There was a stag line and women were allowed to cut in on dances.
 
"Women were in control and had charge of the night," Parkin said.
 
Based on a longstanding Valentine's Day tradition of "using the mail to court and shame," penny postcard makers produced Leap Year cards in the early 20th century, Parkin said. Most used humor to "dissuade women from actually exercising their prerogative to propose."
 
Guns were common in the imagery as early as 1904, depicting women using them and other weapons such as bows and arrows, lassos and nets to snare men. The other tool depicted on the cards was money, with women holding bags of it to set their marriage traps.
 
Dix returned often to Leap Year issues throughout her nearly 50-year career, urging women to give up the idea of proposing by letter or postcard. She counseled them to come right out with it in person.
 
Though Leap Year was filled with biting humor, marriage was no joke to Dix. She had been pressured into marriage by her family and found herself supporting them both, due to her mate's mental illness and inability to hold a job. In 1928, she wrote:
 
"The right to pop the question is the only right that men have now that women do not possess. They have the same right that men have to vote, to own property, to attend institutions of higher learning, to follow any business or professional career for which they have the brains and a hankering."
 
Dix continued: "The only masculine right that is denied them is the right to choose their mates. And this is the greatest right of all, for the privilege of helping pick out the town dog-catcher or deciding on who is going to be President for the next four years is a poor thing compared with the privilege of picking out the father of your children and the man with whom you are going to have to live for the next forty years."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes leap year special?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (113)
  • briannal1-det
    2/29/2016 - 02:23 p.m.

    I didn't know that leap year was so interesting. I could never have guessed that leap year was for that reason. But that kind of seems unfair to women though. Only having one day every 4 years to propose to a man? That does not sound equal to me.

  • matthewb1-kut
    2/29/2016 - 05:23 p.m.

    they basically flipped who proposes and who is proposed to.

  • zackd-kut
    2/29/2016 - 05:24 p.m.

    I think this is cool because it tells me about how leap year was made and who made it and about woman porpoising to men.

  • carsonb2002-
    2/29/2016 - 06:20 p.m.

    Leap year is special because so many women propose to men as it says in paragraph 2, if so many women propose then there will be many more marriages! Also men usually propose to women so this is when most women propose to men!

  • aidenk-dal
    2/29/2016 - 06:41 p.m.

    Leap year is special because it only comes once every four years. It is when woman porpoise to men.


    Woman snared men with guns or other weapons and tried to trick them into her marriage trap

    #KENNY BOY#

    • bryanr-fig
      3/02/2016 - 12:38 p.m.

      I think this is very cool because it shows you how it comes each every for years and women propuse to men.

  • gabrielav-
    2/29/2016 - 08:45 p.m.

    Leap year is special because it's a time when gender roles are turned around. According to the passage "The extra day rolls around every four years. And 2016 is one. It includes a world of lore related to women -- gasp! -- popping the marriage question to men." This is mentioned throughout all the passage of the switching rules such as the women asking men to the dance and marriage instead of the men. This is why leap year is special.

  • isabelc-
    2/29/2016 - 08:51 p.m.

    Leap year is special in that it comes only every four years. According to the passage, "In 46 BCE, Julius Caesar came up with the adjustment. It was to ensure the seasons remain aligned with the calendar." If Caesar hadn't made this adjustment to our calendar, it is a high possibility that our seasons would not be the same. Over the course of 100 years, there would be a total of 25 extra days. Due to this adjustment, Caesar has made sure that we don't have snow in the summer or high temperatures in the Winter. This is why leap year is special.

  • carolinef-
    2/29/2016 - 09:56 p.m.

    It a leap year is so special because it only comes once in every 4 years. Also its a day for women when it comes to marriage.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    2/29/2016 - 11:41 p.m.

    The facts about leap year is that people would like to put in an extra day in February which adds up to be Leap Year which women have the power among men to be asking them out or have a marriage on Leap Year. The facts about the extra day in February would most likely be a day that women would have the power over men that they would most likely to be asking them out in a date or get married during Leap Year. The Leap Year would most likely be happening 4 years after the other Leap Year had started which Leap Year wouldn't be happening every year after another year. People might have most likely to be adding the extra day after every 4 years which men would be lucky that they won't have to be going out with a women or get married on Leap Year.
    Critical Thinking Question: What makes leap year special?
    Answer: Leap Year is the day when woman can be able to ask out a man or they would ask the man if they could marry him or her.

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