Leap into a New Story
Thirty days hath September, April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty-one
Save February, she alone, Hath eight days and a score;
Till leap year gives her one.
Today is Leap Day, and like any other unusual calendar event it has its share of superstitions.
The right of women to propose marriage is the most common Leap Day tradition, supposedly originating in 5th century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for men to propose. St. Patrick gave in to her complaint and allowed women the “right” to propose to a man, but only on a Leap Day. Scotland even had a law fining any man who refused a proposal of marriage from a lady on February 29th. According to superstition, men who refused a lady’s marriage proposal on Leap Day ran the risk of suffering a terrible fate or a year’s worth of bad luck.
Leap Day came about because the exact time it takes the earth to revolve around the sun is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds, which works out to an extra day every 4 years. Roman Emperor Julius Caesar instituted a calendar that would account for the extra day, thus giving February 29 days instead of 28 days every four years.
There are a number of superstitions surrounding Leap Day and Leap Year. A few include:
- It’s bad luck to be born on Leap Day
- It’s bad luck to plan a wedding during a Leap Year.
- If you get divorced in a Leap Year you won’t find happiness again.
- Don’t sell or buy property in a Leap Year or major problems or unhappiness will arise.
- Mother Nature is more turbulent in a Leap Year.
- Don’t celebrate the first tooth of a newborn or the rest of the teeth will grow in improperly.
- Don’t think about having a child in a leap year.
- Harvests will be unpredictable in a Leap Year so gardeners should repeat “I am sowing in a leap year, so I’ll live a little longer,” to insure they have good crops.
Whether or not you believe any of these superstitions, the fear that Leap Year produced in ancient societies, and the curiosity it evokes today, can be used to the writer’s advantage. Think of all the strange things you could create around a world that holds a Leap Day or Leap Year.
- Time Travel might be possible on Leap Day.
- A cataclysmic event could end the world on a Leap Day.
- Someone born on Leap Day could develop supernatural powers.
- The veil between the magical and the real world could be opened on Leap Day.
- Fairy tale characters could leap from the pages of books on Leap Day.
- Even the name given to persons born on Leap Day “leapers or leaplings” evokes ideas for me.
The “leaping” off point for story ideas surrounding Leap Day are endless. I invite you to add a few to my list and then, having been inspired, let’s leap to our computers to begin a story.