Teri’s Notebook: Taking the leap on Leap Day

Teri Vance

Teri Vance

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Saturday marks the first anniversary of when I proposed to my husband. However, it was four years ago.

At the time, I was working as the project manager for Nevada Momentum, sub contracting to the Carson City Tourism Authority.

Gary was working two jobs. In between them, he would stop by the CTA for an afternoon visit.

On this day 2016, I slid him a note. It asked, “Will you marry me?” It had check boxes with the options: “Yes, No, Maybe, Ask Again Later.”

I had heard of an Irish tradition where women can propose to men on Leap Day, which occurs roughly every four years.

According to the UK’s Hereford Times, there are a few theories as to the origin of the tradition.

“The story goes that in the 5th Century an Irish nun called St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose.

“St. Patrick suggested that women could have the opportunity to ask the question but only every four years.”

If women planned to propose on that day, they were expected to wear either pants or a scarlet petticoat to indicate their intentions.

I don’t remember exactly what I was wearing, but I can safely bet it was pants and not a red petticoat.

Another theory alleges Queen Margaret of Scotland created a law allowing women to propose during a leap year, and issued a fine to any man who refused.

The final theory is that because leap days weren’t recognized by English law, it wasn’t even a legal day. As such, it made it OK for a woman to break with conventions.

Luckily for Gary, he avoided any penalties — which could be a gown, money, or 12 pairs of gloves — by checking the box next to “yes.”

(In reality, it was one of about five proposals we had before we believed it was real, which would come about a week later. But that’s a story for another day.)

For any ladies who may have missed the opportunity to get down on one knee, no need to fear, Leap Day will be back in 2024.

The extra day is added to compensate for the fact that we have 365 days in the regular year, but it actually takes about 365.25 days for the Earth to complete a lap around the sun.

But don’t count on a Leap Day coming every four years.

As it turns out, our calendar skips Leap Day every centurial year (1700, 1800, 1900, etc).

That means that we sometimes go eight years without February 29.

But that rule isn’t absolute either.

According to the rules of the Gregorian calendar, the exceptions to this rule are centurial years evenly divisible by 400. On these years, we still keep Leap Day.

So far, that’s only happened in 1600 and 2000.

If this is all too complicated to follow, you can choose an easier path of loving who you want how you want to love them any day of the year.

Just be sure to make your intentions known with a red petticoat. And if you’re not willing to reciprocate, be prepared to pay in the form of a whole bundle of gloves.


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