So, I get to post my blog post on my publisher’s blog on leap year day, something that will come around only every four years. How auspicious. My first thought is, “I should probably write something about leap year.” My next thought is, “What the heck do you write about leap year?”
Humanity being what it is, naturally we would have attached all kinds of meanings to the event through history. Everything seems to have religious, spiritual, traditional, superstitious, and downright silly meanings attached to it. And these can be twisted into any writer’s genre.
February 29th, the day that does not belong on the calendar, added in more than 2000 years ago when Julius Caesar implemented it into the Gregorian calendar to tweak it to line up with the solstice and keep seasonal events on time. What better day is there to impose strange beliefs on than the oddity which does not belong?
We’ve all hear the old, “If you were born on leap day, you are really only (your age divided by four) years old!” Yeah, because your body and brain only age one year for every four “people years”, like a dog in reverse (except dogs are 7:1). “It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.” Okay, but only on leap year. Frankly, I’m surprised there are not tragic comedies written about that coming out every leap year.
There are, of course, comedies written about one of the traditions tagged to leap year, and real life comedies naturally abound, when someone takes a tradition too literally. Back in the dark ages when it was not sociably acceptable for a woman to choose her own fate, February 29th became the one day a woman was socially permitted to propose marriage to a man. Woe is to the man who declines, like facing the wrath of this psycho, who lost it when the man turned down her proposal after dating for only two weeks. Just as the origin of this tradition is unknown and only guessed at, the origin of the fate of the rejecter is similarly unknown. Some sources indicate he is required to buy the lady a dress or pay her off with money. Others lean more into him being cursed with ill will, bad luck chasing him for his remaining days.
Being a reader and writer of darker fiction, I’m a fan of sinister superstitions and myths.
February 29th is disturbingly lacking in dark prophetic history, for a culture which throughout history has had the tendency to turn anything unknown or misunderstood into dark undertakings committed by evil souls.
The only dark bit of history I could find is the date of February 29th 1692. An article alleges that was the date the first warrants were issued in a trial that will forever be the darkest trial in the history of mankind – the Salem witchcraft trials in Massachusetts.
For more calendar history fun, apparently a number of days were quite mysteriously lost in the year of 1752, sparking riots. What happened on those 11 days? Were people, places, and events sucked into a black hole of time? The time counter’s own version of the Bermuda Triangle? Actually, it was apparently decided that the calendar didn’t match real time and so eleven days were removed to reset it like setting a clock. Madness ensued.
The funny thing of this is that it immediately rings home for me, feeding into a story idea I’ve been playing with for a few months.