2020-02-29

It’s February 29th, which means, it’s Leap Year, the odd day of the quadrennial year, and by that very token, this is a Gay day, a “queer” day, an “in between” place. In between places and times are traditionally connected to same-sex/Gay people who, in numerous cultures are considered to be “not-male, not female” i.e. a third (and possibly fourth) gender; in between the sexes. The crossroads is a widely understood example of this “sacred space” traditionally held by same-sex people. The middle ground. The bridge. All are traditionally Gay archetypes.

Although the modern calendar counts a year as 365 days, a complete revolution around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours. Every four years, an extra twenty-four hours have accumulated, so one extra day is added to that calendar to keep the count coordinated with the sun’s apparent position.

There was a tradition that women may make a proposal of marriage to men only in leap years, further restricted in some cases to only February 29. There is a tradition that in 1288 the Scottish Parliament under Queen Margaret legislated that any woman could propose in Leap Year; few parliament records of that time exist, and none concern February 29. Another component of this tradition was that if the man rejects the proposal, he should soften the blow by providing a kiss, one pound currency, and a pair of gloves (some later sources say a silk gown). There were similar notions in France and Switzerland.

A similar modern American tradition, Sadie Hawkins Day, honors “the homeliest gal in the hills” created by Al Capp in the cartoon strip Li’l Abner. In the famous story line, Sadie and every other woman in town were allowed on that day to pursue and catch the most eligible bachelors in Dogpatch. Although the comic strip placed Sadie Hawkins Day in November, today it has become almost synonymous with February 29.

A person who was born on February 29 may be called a “leapling”. In non-leap years they may celebrate their birthday on February 28 or March 1.