Life Day 25068: Leap Day

February 29, 2016 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment


Good morning everyone. The first “holiday” today is Leap Year Day or Leap Day. Julius Caesar (with help from his astronomer, Sosigenes) added Leap Years to the calendar in 45 BC. They discovered that there are actually 365.242190. So, why the fancy calculation? The earth rotates around the sun once every 365 and about 1/4 days. So, by adding an extra day every four years, we get mighty close to keeping the calendar consistent with the earth’s annual trip around the sun. Under normal circumstances, a date that falls on a Tuesday one year will fall on a Wednesday next year. However, in a Leap Year we “leap” over one day of the week, which is how this phenomenon got its name. Technically, Leap Day occurs every four years…well, almost. It happens every four years except years ending with “00” that are not divisible by 400. The year in which this occurs is called a Leap Year. So, on years ending in “00”, (except those not evenly divisible by 400) we skip Leap Year and Leap Day. That is why the year 2000 was a leap year, but, if you recall, 1900 was not. With all that fancy calculating out of the way, let’s just celebrate the day.
Did you know that there are occasional “Leap Seconds”? I will spare you the detail on those for now, but will cover them when they occur.
Just how many people celebrate a birthday on Leap Day? Only about one in 1461 people.

The second “holiday” today is Rare Disease Day. Rare Disease Day is an observance held on the last day of February to raise awareness about diseases that most people will not know of, as well as to improve access to treatment. But, what classifies a disease as a rare disease? A disease or disorder is defined as rare in the United States when it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time. However, in Europe, a disease or disorder is defined as rare when it affects fewer than 1 in 2000.
The main goal of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness among the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. The campaign targets primarily the general public but it is also designed for patients and patient representatives, as well as politicians, public authorities, policy-makers, industry representatives, researchers, health professionals and anyone who has a genuine interest in rare diseases
The European Organization for Rare Diseases says that treatment for many rare diseases is insufficient, and some people’s quality of life is greatly hindered by inequality, simply because people have never heard of their disease, or do not understand the disease and the patient’s needs. Since 2008, they have been using social media to increase awareness and help support people with rare diseases and their families, as well as coordinating events for Rare Disease Day at an international level. Events often feature balloon releases, marathons, auctions and tree planting events to raise awareness, and each year people affected by rare diseases are encouraged to share pictures and their stories with the world.

Another “holiday” today is International Underlings Day: Since 1984, this is an annual celebration for everyone who is neither a boss nor professional assistant – hey they have their days already. It is celebrated on February 29 in keeping with the esteemed position of an Underling. International Underlings Day™ was created in 1984 by Peter D. Morris and officially recognized by Chase’s Annual Calendar of Events in 1996. It can be unofficially recognized on either February 28 or March 1 on non-leap years and is always recognized on February 29 during a leap year. It is a celebration of the contributions to the work world and society by all those who are not otherwise recognized with their own day. Supervisors are encouraged to give their Underlings some time off between February 28 and March 1 each year during non-leap years. And since has time off, it only makes sense to reward them with a lunch or other gathering on either February 28 or March 1. But on years that have February 29 we want all Underlings to really be celebrated. So plan a spectacular gathering of all Underlings you work with or know and party like it is February 29.

The last “holiday” today is Bachelor’s Day. Bachelor Day is not a day for celebration if you are an unattached male…unless you are looking for a mate. Quite the contrary. Bachelor’s Day is more along the lines of Sadie Hawkins Day. According to an old English tradition dating back to 13th Century Ireland, on every Feb, 29th, it is acceptable for girls to propose marriage. If the bachelor doesn’t accept the proposal, they have to buy that girl a gift on the first day of every month for the rest of the year.
Fortunately, this tradition has evolved over the centuries. Today, Bachelor’s Day is more about celebrating the fact that you are single man. If you’re a bachelor,  Bachelor’s Day is a holiday to celebrate the fact that you have the freedom to do what you want when you want without having to answer to anyone. Gather a few of you other friends who have also managed to elude the bonds of holy matrimony, and go party at your favorite bar; or just invite them over to your place for pizza and a horror movie or poker night. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie of spending time with your buddies…swapping stories and jokes.

The first food-related “holiday” today is Frog Legs Day.  Get it? Leap Day, Frogs leap…chortle, chortle. Anyway, Frog Legs are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, and are purported to “taste just like Chicken”. I, however, will never (knowingly) be able to make that determination. [I am beginning to think that, in fact, the converse is true. With all the hormonal dietary supplements, additives, and preservatives used in chicken these days, I have to wonder if, perhaps, chicken isn’t beginning to taste more and more like frog legs]?

The other food-related “holiday” today is Surf and Turf Day. Why would anyone make Surf  and Turf Day fall on February 29th? Perhaps it is celebrated on Leap Day because of its ostentatiousness—it is, after all, a dish that combines the two most expensive dishes on the menu, lobster tail, and filet mignon. Of course, people have combined meat and seafood in meals for centuries. Fine dining establishments served both lobster and steak on the same plate in the last quarter of the 19th century. The term Surf and Turf is an American invention. According to my sources, the term “surf & turf” belongs to the 20th century, more specifically, the 1960’s. The earliest print reference was published in the Eureka [California] Humboldt Standard of August 14, 1964: “An entrée in restaurants in Portland [Oregon] is called surf and turf—a combination of lobster and steak.”  It appears to be connected with theme restaurants targeting young, budget-conscious clientele. The present day meaning isn’t constrained to just lobster and filet mignon. Pick your favorite meat: steak, lamb chops, pork chops for example and combine them with your favorite seafood; crab cakes, crab legs, scallops or shrimp. How about crab cakes and ribs? Or fish and chips with a tasty sausage?  Heck,  a tuna salad sandwich paired with a hot-dog is technically Surf and Turf in today’s vernacular. You could fill the Leap Days for the rest of our life with different options, and never run out. 

On this date in 1944 – The Office of Defense Transportation, for the second year in a row, restricted attendance at the Kentucky Derby to residents of the Louisville area. This was an effort to prevent a railroad traffic burden during wartime.

Other significant historical events which happened on Leap Day are:

  • In 1288 – Scotland established this day as one when a woman could propose marriage to a man. In the event that he refused the proposal he was required to pay a fine.
  • In 1860 – The first electric tabulating machine was invented by Herman Hollerith.
  • In 1904 – In Washington, DC, a seven-man commission was created to hasten the construction of the Panama Canal.
  • In 1940 – Hattie McDaniel became the first black person to win an Oscar. She won Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind.”
  • In 1944 – The invasion of the Admiralty Islands began with “Operation Brewer.” U.S. General Douglas MacArthur led his forces onto Los Negros.
  • In 1944 – Dorothy McElroy Vredenburgh of Alabama became the first woman to be appointed the secretary of a national political party. She was appointed to the Democratic National Committee.
  • In 1952 – In New York City, four electronic signs were installed at 44th Street and Broadway in Times Square that told pedestrians when to walk.
  • In 1964 – Dawn Fraser got her 36th world record. The Australian swimmer was timed at 58.9 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle in Sydney, Australia.
  • In 1972 – Jack Anderson revealed a memo written by ITT’s Washington lobbyist, Dita Beard, that connected ITT’s funding of part of the Republican National Convention.
  • In 1988 – “Day by Day” premiered on NBC-TV.

Some distinguished people born on Leap Day are:


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