by Paula Gail Benson
Leap Year Day Dot Com, a site devoted to the once every four years occurrence of February 29, is created by folks who have a “leap day” birthday in their families. One page of the site collects 94 versions of the poem many of us learned in elementary school to remember the number of days in each month. Here’s a combination of Versions 58, 60, and 64, which comes closest to what I memorized:
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February, which has twenty-eight alone,
But, once in four,
Leap Year brings one day more!
February gets a “leap day” because a single orbit around the sun actually takes 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds -- which is roughly an extra day every four years. People with leap day birthdays or anniversaries are frequently teased about getting to celebrate only every four years.
Sadie Hawkins’ Day is often confused with leap day. Sadie Hawkins, a character from Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip, was a spinster at age 35. To help “remedy” her situation, her father instituted a day in her honor, where all the single women chased all the bachelors and married the ones they caught. Li’l Abner avoided Daisy Mae’s grasp for two decades. According to the Li’l Abner website, Al Capp did not name a specific day for Sadie Hawkins’ Day, but featured it in November comic strips.
Perhaps the reason people confuse Sadie Hawkins’ Day with leap day comes from an Irish tradition known as St. Bridget’s Complaint. When St. Bridget expressed concern to St. Patrick that women had to wait for long periods of time to receive marriage proposals, St. Patrick authorized women to ask men to marry them on leap day.
Another version of the story had St. Patrick first agreeing to women proposing marriage every seven years, then reducing the number to four, based on the leap year. Upon hearing his edict, St. Bridget was supposed to have gone down on one knee to ask for his hand in marriage. He refused, but kissed her cheek and gave her money for a gown.
In 1288, Scotland passed a law allowing women to propose marriage to men in leap years. If a man refused the proposal, he had to pay a fine, such as a kiss, a silk dress, or a pair of gloves.
Over the years the traditions of St. Bridget’s Complaint and Sadie Hawkins Day came to be viewed as empowering women to choose their own futures.
This year, as we add an extra day to a month of celebrating love and affection, I would like to recognize the accomplishments of my marvelous blogging partners.
Connie Berry’s suspenseful debut Kate Hamilton mystery (set in Scotland) is nominated for an Agatha and her second novel features Kate visiting England at Christmas.
Warren Bull (our only male blogger) continues to explore new adventures (like singing and playwriting) while amazing us with his knowledge of history and his expertise in writing short stories.
Kait Carson, in addition to her Hayden Kent and Catherine Swope mysteries, will soon have a new series (the Southernmost Secrets) set in Key West. And, she’s an expert scuba diver!
Carla Damron is working on a novel that, like her The Stone Necklace, weaves characters’ stories together to create a fascinating tapestry.
Annette Dashofy has produced nine incredible novels in the Zoe Chambers series. Her eighth, Fair Game, is her fifth Agatha nominee!
E.B. Davis, our fearless leader, continues to serve as coordinator of the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crimes’ online classes. In addition, she writes great paranormal police procedurals.
Nancy Eady somehow accomplishes the crazy balancing act of working as lawyer and author as well as producing terrific articles about the writing craft.
Kaye George (how many people are you, really?) has a new cozy series with Lyrical Press being released in March and short stories in several anthologies (one of which is nominated for an Agatha).
Debra H. Goldstein, who has the incredible ability to keep hundreds of plates in the air without a single crash, continues to receive raves for her Sarah Blair series, with the third due for release in August.
Besides writing wonderful short stories, including one in Mid-Century Murder, Margaret S. Hamilton has taken us on a fabulous photographic journey through Egypt this year.
Marilyn Levinson, who also writes as Allison Brook, has been nominated for an Agatha and has a third book out in the Haunted Library Mystery series.
Shari Randall, just returning from signing books at the Public Libraries Association’s meeting in Nashville, is back at work on her new cozy series about an ice cream shop.
Martha Reed is a writer of short stories and the IPPY award-winning John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery series.
KM Rockwood’s delightful short stories are slated to appear in numerous publications. And, don’t miss her Jesse Damon crime novels.
Linda Rodriguez writes brilliant mysteries, elegant poetry, and Plotting the Character Driven Novel, a great book of writing advice.
Grace Topping’s debut novel, Staging is Murder, is nominated for an Agatha, and her second, Staging Wars, is due out in April.
Susan Van Kirk, after her first publisher ended its mystery line and her Endurance series, moved with resilience to a new Sweet Iron series featuring a genealogist and historical researcher.