By Chelle Delaney, Quay County Sun
Let’s not forget that this year, 2008, is Leap Year.
Unlike common years, which have 365 days, a Leap Year has 366 days. The added day is added to the month of February – Feb. 29.
That’s so the calendar remains in alignment with the passage of earth around the sun.
That extra day, Leap Day, has also been, for about 700 years, a day of freedom for women, a day when a woman can propose marriage to a man, something previously forbidden. That’s right, up until 1288 only a man could propose marriage.
But then, in 1288, Mary Queen of Scotland had a law passed that allowed a woman to propose to the man of her choice during a 366-day Leap Year.
I’m not sure whether the proposal had to be on Leap Day.
Of course, a woman’s right to propose during a Leap Year (or on a Leap Day) provides a very limited freedom.
After all, Leap Years and Leap Days are pretty scarce.
This year, Leap Day – Feb. 29 – falls on a Friday. That won’t happen again for 28 years.
But what Queen Mary started continues.
Go on the web and you’ll find no end of women who are planning to propose on Leap Day.
Now, in the old days, according to Queen Mary’s law, the man who is proposed to is supposed to accept – or be fined for his unwilllingness.
But Leap Day, while traditionally the day for a woman to propose to a man, doesn’t seem like a good day to be married.
Very few anniversaries, you see.
And being born on a Leap Day has all kinds of handicaps.
But there are some advantages, you can always subtract a few “regular” years from age.
Then, you would have fewer birthdays. And just when would you celebrate your birthday.
Those kind of questions led a woman, Phyllis Eileen Banks, who was a Leap Day baby born in 1932, to establish the “Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club.”
Then she went to the Chamber of Commerce in the little town where she lived and suggested that their town, the town of Anthony (in New Mexico/ Texas) claim the title of “Leap Year Capital of the World.”
The chamber supported the idea. So did the governors of both states; they joined in proclaiming Anthony to be the “Leap Year Capital of the World.” And in 1988 U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico read it into the Congressional Record.
Anthony’s “Leap Year Festival” draws crowds to celebrate their birthdays on Feb. 29. There’s a hot air balloon lift off, a Leap Year Day Parade, and all sorts of festivities – anyone, anywhere in the world, who was born on Feb. 29, is eligible for membership.
Sign up and you get a certificate and a T-shirt. The dues are $20 for four years.
Anthony Worldwide Leap Year Festival events are Thursday through March 2. in Anthony. Many of the events are free. Check it out at www.leapyearcapital.com.
And don’t forget ladies, this is our year, our day to propose.
Chelle Delaney is associate publisher of the Quay County Sun. she can be reached by emaling firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 461-1952.